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Meat Groups Want Delay for Big Six E. Coli Rule

The meat industry wants more time — 120 days instead of 60 — to comment on the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) proposal to ban six more pathogenic serotypes of Shigella toxin-producing E. coli in raw beef.

In a letter to FSIS Administrator Al Almanza, eight meat industry organizations asked for more time on the comment clock for what they call an extensive set of issues, and the need for the industry to prepare for “this significant new policy.”

Currently, only E. coli O157:H7 is banned from raw beef in the United States.

In preparing to also regulate pathogenic E. coli 026, 045, O111, O101, O121 and O145 –known as the Big Six, FSIS has called for a 60-day “Final Determination and Request for Comments (FDRC).”  

But the meat groups, which say they will all be affected by the new policy, want more time to prepare comments “that will help guide the agency” as it prepares to implement the new rule. Specifically, the industry wants to weigh in on: 

— the FSIS regulatory sampling plan for non-O157 STEC for the six sero-groups

— suggestions for the baseline survey of non-O157 STEC prevalence in certain raw beef products

— whether a technical meeting on methods for controlling the six strains should be held during the comment period

— validation guidance for pathogen detection test kits

— preliminary estimates of the cost per test for non-O157 STEC

— estimates of the loss to industry of diverting positive-testing product to cooking

— the usefulness of technical workshops for small and very small establishments

Asking for the extra time are the: American Association of Meat Processors, American Meat Institute,Eastern Meat Packers  Association,  Meat Import Council  of American, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Meat Association, North American Meat Processors  Association, and Southwest Meat Association.

© Food Safety News
  • Dan Cahalan, Ph.D.

    The 1994 regulation should be loosened to eliminate zero tolerance of O157 STEC in ground beef, which should always be thoroughly cooked. Due to zero tolerance, there has been too much destruction of good meat and too much needless testing. (Calling one O157 cell in a ton of beef adulteration is as absurd as calling one cadmium atom in a ton of food adulteration.) A very low level of STEC (O157 and non-O157) should be tolerated in ground beef. Actually, illnesses from non-O157 STEC have mostly been from non-cooked foods, such as lettuce and berries.