In a not-so-well published press release, DuPont and the USDA have agreed to collaborate on the development of a new test for detecting hard-to-identify (allegedly) strains of toxin-producing E. coli that are not currently regulated and have been causing increased instances of food contamination and illness.

In the release FSIS admits that “in recent years, other types of STEC have been identified as agents of foodborne illness, and these are a growing concern in the United States, Europe, Japan and food safety agencies worldwide.”

Also according to the release, the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) of the USDA will collaborate with DuPont to develop an effective test for the “Big 6” non-O157 STEC pathogens in food.

These are the same STEC’s that I petitioned the USDA to deem adulterants in my October 2009 Petition.  I had also done a blog post a few days before that “Why Should the Food Safety and Inspection Service Declare Enterohemorrhagic non-O157 E. coli to be an Adulterant?”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that non-O157 STEC bacteria are responsible for 36,000 illnesses, 1,000 hospitalizations and 30 deaths annually.