USDA/FSIS (Food Safety Inspection Service) announced today that in addition to E. coli O157:H7, six additional serogroups of pathogenic E. coli will be declared adulterants in non-intact raw beef (ground beef and certain tenderized products). If E. coli serogroups O26, O103, O45, O111, O121 and O145 are found in raw ground beef or its precursor products, those products will be considered adulterated and will be prohibited from entering commerce.

E. coli O157:H7 and these six additional serogroups are associated with severe foodborne gastroenteritis, HUS (Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome), and possible death, particularly in the young, immune-compromised individuals, and the elderly. Collectively they are termed non-O157:H7 Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (“non-O157 STEC”).

FSIS will begin testing for these six serogroups of STEC and enforcing the new policy on March 5, 2012.

An advance copy of the forthcoming Federal Register Notice is posted below: