WASHINGTON, May 31, 2012 – Beginning Monday, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will begin instituting a zero-tolerance policy for six additional strains of E. coli that are responsible for a number of human illnesses.

FSIS will routinely test raw beef manufacturing trim, which is a major component of ground beef, for the six additional strains of E. coli, according to the USDA. Trim found to be contaminated with these pathogens will not be sold and will be subject to a recall.

FSIS already tests for one strain of the pathogen, known as E. coli O157:H7, which caused a high-profile illness outbreak in 1993.  Illnesses due to E. coli serogroups other than O157:H7, outnumber those attributed to O157:H7. The additional strains that will be tested for are Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145.

"These strains of E. coli are an emerging threat to human health and the steps we are taking today are entirely focused on preventing Americans from suffering foodborne illnesses," said Secretary Tom Vilsack. "We cannot ignore the evidence that these pathogens are a threat in our nation's food supply."


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