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Zero tolerance policy extended by USDA to six further E.Coli serogroups

SGS provides services to fight E. coli in the food supply

SGS provides services to fight E. coli in the food supply

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced on 13 September 2011 they are taking extra steps to fight E. coli in the food supply. Under the new ruling, should E. coli serogroups O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 and O145 be found in raw ground beef or the meat used to make raw ground beef, such products will be prohibited from being sold as food in the USA. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identified these serogroups as responsible for most incidents involving non-O157 Shiga-toxin producing E. coli and which causes illnesses, hospitalizations and deaths in the USA. The FSIS predicts the new standard will save 25,000 food borne illnesses annually. The FSIS originally intended to implement a routine sampling program for these serogroups by March 5, 2012, but have since postponed this until June 4, 2012 to allow more time to prepare.

Just like the more widely known serotype E. coli O157:H7, these non-O157 Shiga-toxin producing serogroups of bacteria can lead to hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a blood disease that can result in fatal kidney failure, especially in young children.

Some beef industry processors have already agreed to test all of their lean beef for the non-0157 serogroups, but others continue to challenge the implementation of the new rules, claiming it will unduly impact trade and the meat industry. The Beef Industry Food Safety Council contends the new regulations will cost the industry 173-323 million dollars annually .

While already testing for E. coli O157, Australia, Canada and New Zealand contend that by demanding the testing of imported goods to the USA for further serogroups of E. coli it may violate existing trade agreements under the World Trade Organization (WTO). They argue that the USDA FSIS should provide a risk assessment under Article 5 of the WTO agreement. The USDA issued a draft risk assessment on non-O157 E. coli In August 2011, but it remains unclear whether this was submitted to the WTO. The USDA FSIS have already updated their Microbiological Laboratory Guidebook (MLG 5B.01) to add the detection and isolation of the same non-O157 serogroups in meat products, which became effective November 4, 2011. It specifies a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method for screening and isolating the non-O157 serogroups. On January 13, 2012 one company announced they have developed a commercial method of testing for the non-O157 serogroups. However, the USDA FSIS postponed the implementation of a routine sampling program for these serogroups until June 4, 2012 to allow more time to prepare.

About SGS Food Safety Services

SGS follows up and regularly informs interested parties about the ongoing developments in US and international food safety legislation. SGS is able to provide a wide range of services, which include microbial analysis and analytical testing, auditing, and the inspections of food products for the US and worldwide markets at its global network of laboratories. SGS also provides consultancy and labeling services throughout its worldwide network.

SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With 70,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1,350 offices and laboratories around the world.

SGS Consumer Testing Services
James Cook
Food Safety Technologist at SGS North America Inc.
291 Fairfield Ave, 07004 Fairfield, NJ
United States

t +1 973 461 1493
E-mail: cts.media@sgs.com
Website: http://www.sgs.com/pages/consumer-testing/sgs-consumer-goods-and-retail.aspx

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