Food Safety Magazine - Texas Tech University postdoctoral research associate Amy Parks and Texas Tech professor Mindy Brashears studied E. coli and its relationship to food safety. Parks has 15 years of food microbiology and quality assurance experience. Brashears is the director of the International Center for Food Industry Excellence and researches interventions in pre- and postharvest environments and the emergence of anti-microbial drug resistance.
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.