Non-O157 STEC meeting

US Food Safety and Inspection Service is co-hosting a public meeting on non-O157 E. coli tomorrow.

FSIS’s press release from October states: "Currently only one strain, E. coli O157:H7 is considered an adulterant in meat. The CDC has reported an increase in the number of non-O157:H7 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) infections from 2000 to 2005. Outbreaks from these organisms have been reported in the U.S. since 1990, and foodborne exposures have been suspected in many of these outbreaks.
The purpose of the meeting is to solicit input from academia, consumers, other public health and regulatory agencies and industry on the issue of whether non-O157:H7 STECs should be considered to be adulterants as E. coli O157:H7."

This meeting strikes me as a cool thing — publicly discussing whether to increase the adulterant list in an open and transparent way.  This meeting has led to us to pull together a selection of non-O157 outbreaks (not just the STEC ones), which can be found below, and the USDA has posted a table of 13 non-O157 STEC outbreaks (page 40), which we have reproduced below.

Wonder how the conagra pot-pie outbreak recall/non-recall would have played out had strains of Salmonella been declared adulterants, or if the Topps outbreak driven recall would have changed if  E. coli O157:H7 wasn’t an adulterant.

For barfblog readers in the D.C. area the public meeting will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at the George Mason University Arlington campus, 3401 N. Fairfax Drive, Room 244, Arlington, Va., 22201.

Dumpster diving: Praised by the lads, loathed by the parents

The Hamilton Spectator today reports that an alert principal intercepted 1,500 Hershey Peanut Butter Cups potentially contaminated by salmonella which flooded a Hamilton high school Tuesday.
The story says that the bars — identified as Hershey products recalled in November and believed stolen from a recycler — were brought to Mountain Secondary School by students who found them in a dumpster behind a closed variety store nearby.
Principal Virginia McCulloch said she and vice-principal Patrick Elliott noticed the bars appearing in the halls 20 minutes before classes ended on the last day before exams.
Eric Matthews, manager of Hamilton’s health protection branch, praised McCulloch’s quick thinking and the students’ willingness to turn in the candy.
There is no evidence anyone was selling the bars at the school, he said.

Note: Back in November fears of salmonella contamination drove chocolate-maker Hershey to recall a wide variety of its chocolate bars and candies made at its Smiths Falls, Ont. plant. The company identified soy lecithin as the contaminant, though both it and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency received heat from the media for refusing to reveal the suppliers identity. For more, read: How the chocolate got spilled will not be toldThe sweet taste of truth archived at iFSN. More of the recalled chocolate bars were discovered last week in a Lindsay, Ont. convenience store. For the complete story, see: Potentially dangerous  chocolate found in  Lindsay  corner store.