BPI to test beef for six non-O157 STECs

BPI to test beef for six non-O157 STECs

- Beef Products Inc. (BPI) is expanding its food-safety program by testing all of its ground and raw beef for an additional six, non-O157 pathogenic forms of E. coli, including: E. coli O26, O45, O1O3, O111, O121 and O145.

This industry-first initiative is part of the company's hold-and-test through which BPI samples its lean beef products prior to sale and holds the products while awaiting test results for the presence of pathogens from independent, certified, third-party labs.

The company´s beef is sold or used in raw ground beef only after determining all test results are negative. The new testing protocol will begin at BPI's processing plant in South Sioux City, Neb., and is expected to be implemented at its other three plants within two months, after a sufficient supply of test kits is available.

Although most E. coli are not pathogenic, these Shiga-toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) pathogens, collectively referred to as non-O157 STECs, are forms of E. coli that are capable of producing negative health effects similar to those caused by E. coli O157:H7, which is the most widely known strain to raise serious health concerns in the US. The company said recent global health concerns caused by E. coli pathogens other than O157:H7 and in foods other than beef were part of BPI's decision to expand its testing. Its new testing regimen includes the six additional pathogens, which are recognized as the "big six" pathogens by the USDA. However, the recent outbreak in Europe, which health officials determined was caused by E. coli O104:H4 in bean sprouts is not one of the "big six" and not part of BPI's new testing protocol.

According to BPI, the additional testing will add significantly to the cost of its hold-and-test program, however on a per meal basis the testing is estimated to cost less than $0.00005 per meal.
Source: Beef Products Inc.