June 17, 2014
Beginning this summer, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will do double testing on ground beef samples: Every time it tests for Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) in a sample of ground beef or ground beef sources, it will also test for Salmonella. This new approach will begin on June 29, according to FSIS’ May 16 Constituent Update.
The move is not surprising, says Guy Loneragan, PhD, a veterinary epidemiologist and professor of Food Safety and Public Health at Texas Tech University. “They’ve been talking about doing this for some time. It certainly should improve efficiency within the laboratories. The difference is that, in the past, 0157 has really been done to evaluate the effectiveness of HACCP plans, and Salmonella testing has been done as part of a performance assay, as an indicator of sanitary conditions. Now, I presume, those two objectives will be focused on within one sample. I do think there’s value in looking for opportunities to improve efficiency, and this is one of them.”