Shiga toxin–producing Escherichia coli (STEC) serotype O157:H7 and serogroups O26, O45, O103, O111, O121, and O145 are the leading cause of STEC-associated infections in humans in the United States. In the United States, these organisms are considered adulterants in raw nonintact beef products and in intact beef destined to be made into or used in nonintact raw beef products.
The objective of this study was to provide an estimate of the burden of the six serogroups of non-O157 STEC in ground beef obtained from retail stores across the United States. A convenience sample of commercial ground beef products (n = 1,129) were purchased from retail stores in 24 states from October 2011 to May 2012. The samples had various lean/fat proportions, muscle group of origin (chuck, round, sirloin, or not specified), and packaging types. For each ground beef sample, 25 g was inoculated in 225 ml of modified tryptic soy broth, stomached for 1 min, and then incubated at 41°C for 18 ± 2 h. These enrichment cultures were then screened for stx, eae, and O group genes using a commercially available, closed-platform PCR-based method. The potential positive samples were subjected to immunomagnetic separation and plated on modified Rainbow agar. Morphologically typical colonies were subjected to latex agglutination and PCR determination of stx and eae genes. Nine (0.8%) of the ground beef samples were potentially positive for at least one STEC serogroup after PCR screening. The serogroups detected by PCR assay were O26 (four samples), O103 (four samples), O145 (three samples), O45 (two samples), and O121 (one sample).
No STEC isolates belonging to these serogroups were recovered from the sample cultures. The current research provides updated surveillance data for non-O157 STEC isolates among commercial ground beef products and information regarding the potential sources of contamination from different parts of beef trims destined for ground beef production.
Journal of Food Protection®, Number 7, July 2014, pp. 1052-1240, pp. 1188-1192(5)