April 3, 2015
Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) are pathogens of concern across various products within the food industry, as they have been connected to a wide variety of outbreaks and recalls. Most of the scientific literature concerning the removal of attached STEC cells focuses on E. coli O157:H7, as it was the first STEC to be considered an adulterant in nonintact beef products in the United States after a large outbreak from undercooked ground beef patties in 1982.
Worldwide, non-O157 STEC strains are estimated to cause 20 to 50 percent of STEC-related infections. A review of outbreaks from 1983 through 2002 found six serogroups (O26, O111, O103, O121, O145 and O45) to be the most common non-O157 STECs causing human illness in the United States. With an estimated 70 percent of non-O157 STEC infections being caused by these serogroups, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service has included these serogroups along with E. coli O157:H7 as adulterants in nonintact beef products.