Fewer people barfing? Pathogen versus illness reduction

I’ve commented many times on the machinations of Washington and other capitals, with their proposals, and lobbyists and general isolation from the reality of foodborne illness and ask a basic question: will whatever some social actor is proposing actually lead to few people barfing?

eintsteinquestioneverything(It’s like the question I asked my hockey club: do coaches run practice or do parents? They couldn’t answer so I stepped aside as head coach. Still coach kids and adults, but wearied of the bureaucracy; that’s for other people more skilled at it than I).

Dr. William James writes for meatingplace.com that it’s time for USDA to move from pathogen reduction to illness reduction.

Will requiring testing of an expanded array of products help us achieve a downward trend of illnesses from E. coli O157:H7? Some meat companies think not, because trim from these products is already tested.  FSIS thinks more testing might help because it claims these cuts are increasingly used for grinding by further processors, retailers, and foodservice customers.

In a puzzling statement, FSIS said it intends to focus on Salmonella Dublin. S. Dublin isn’t on CDC’s list of top 10 serotypes causing illnesses.  And according to FSIS, S. Dublin is reported to cause more severe illness than any other meat-borne Salmonella, but it “rarely infects humans.”

So, what is the plan to reduce Salmonella illnesses from beef? “[W]e think one way to get at that is through a performance standard,”Meatingplace.com reports FSIS as saying.

FSIS did mention they were looking at the presence of Salmonella in lymph nodes as a key to a new approach to controlling illnesses.  That’s encouraging.

The FSIS announcement for pathogen controls doesn’t have many new ideas, and is not likely to be effective.  We need a fresh approach.

The goal for FSIS needs to evolve from pathogen reduction to illness reduction.