Monday, April 30, 2012

FSIS issues verification testing for Non O157 STECs

FSIS has just issued the Verification Testing for Non-O157 STEC for Beef Trimmings. While this new wrinkle in the E. coli-Beef trim issue has caused a lot of concern, the anticipated outcome may not come anywhere close to the hype.  

Domestic product

Background - On June 4th, FSIS will begin testing for six non-0157 serogroups (O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145) in addition to O157:H7. Like E. coli O157:H7, these E. coli serogroups are viewed as adulterants in non-intact raw beef products and product components (raw ground beef and beef trim).

A few interesting notes:
1) FSIS does not expect establishments to reassess their HACCP plans because of this testing implementation. (Facilities should address non-O157 STEC in their Hazard Analysis.)

2) FSIS will not schedule a for-cause FSA in response to a non-O157 positive sample result. Outside of that, FSIS will follow Directive 10,010.3 Rev 3 including resampling. (And corrective action for positive product, which will include holding and dispositioning of positive product).

3) “FSIS recognizes that establishments will begin taking steps to address non-O157 STECs in their HACCP systems and performing activities to gather data to validate that their food safety systems are adequately designed to control non-O157 STECs. Establishments are to document and identify in their initial validation activity plans the time frame in which they will have accumulated sufficient data to conclude that their food safety systems are demonstrated to be adequate to control for the relevant non-O157 STECs”.

4) FSIS will not require establishments to adjust their existing testing programs for non-O157 STEC.

5) A confirmed positive is an isolate that has stx and eae genes and one or more of the target serogroup genes (O45, O26, O113, etc.). A positive is not just a positive for the genes, but the bacterium must be isolated and biochemically confirmed, so establishments should be prepared to deal with false positives.

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