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FSIS Cuts O157 Tests for Ready-to-Eat Meats

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will no longer test dry and semi-dry fermented sausage and fully cooked meat patties for E. coli O157:H7.

Saying it has tested more than 10,000 such samples and hasn’t turned up a single positive test result for O157 since 1994, FSIS told its inspection program personnel to discontinue the E. coli tests in both domestic and imported products. But samples of ready-to-eat fermented sausage and cooked meat patties will still be collected and tested for Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella, the FSIS notice said.

Although there was a recall in March 2011 of Lebanon beef bologna linked to an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7, the contamination was “likely due to problems with the establishment’s lack of scientific supporting documentation for the critical limits of the process,” FSIS noted.

Resources that had been going to the E. coli O157:H7 sampling program for dry/semi-dry fermented sausages and fully cooked meat patties will be diverted to increase testing for E. coli O157:H7 in raw meats, which the FSIS said are more likely to cause a public health risk.

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