Processors win time for E.coli testing

Meat processors have won extra time to get ready for the introduction of  mandatory testing for the Super Six E.coli Shiga toxin producing (STEC) serogroups for product destined for the US.

The US Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has deferred the original implementation date of 5 March to 4 June 2012, for the required introduction of testing for the Super Six E.coli (non-O157) STEC serogroups (O26, O45, O103, O0111, O121 and O145). The FSIS extension was given to give extra time for processors and laboratories to validate their test methods.

The Meat Industry Association (MIA), through MAF’s Food Safety Authority, had argued for equivalency allowing the transfer of New Zealand’s established E.coli O157:H7 ‘lotting’ arrangements to the Super Six, MIA technical manager Kevin Cresswell says. This argument was accepted – subject to MAF providing the status of the testing method validation of the non-O157 serogroups – meaning that processors here can use an alternative national programme for the sampling of raw beef product for E.coli O157:H7 and six other Shiga toxin-producing E.coli (STEC).

It will simplify the procedure too, saving time and cost, Cresswell explains. “This gives NZ approval to integrate the tests for the six new adulterants with the current E.coli O157:H7 sampling and product disposition protocol.

“This allows for one test per day per premises (as per the current O157) protocol) rather than every consignment having to be retrospectively tested at the same time it is consolidated (by 60 drill samples of frozen cartons as a minimum) as is required by Australia.”

Published in Food NZ magazine (April/May 2012).


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