S73 Revisiting the STEC Testing Approach: Regulatory and Industry Perspectives on Making It More Reliable for Routine Application in Food Industry

Wednesday, August 3, 2016: 1:30 PM-3:30 PM
231-232 (America's Center - St. Louis)
Primary Contact: Hari Prakash Dwivedi
Organizers: Mick Bosilevac and Hari Prakash Dwivedi
Convenors: Mick Bosilevac and Hari Prakash Dwivedi
Out of few hundreds Shiga toxin producing E. coli serotypes (STEC),  only a subset causes human illnesses. Agencies such as FSIS currently regulates O26, O111, O103, O121, O145 and O45 along with O157: H7 (so called Top-7) as adulterants in beef trim. Thus, a very specific testing approach based on genetic markers (virulence factors) to assure the confirmation of these top 5­­–7 STEC is neededUnfortunately, the current methodologies (based on Shiga toxins and Intimin genes) end up in high numbers of false positives at different stages of confirmation (Potential-Presumptive-Confirmed positives) requiring almost 57 days. The risk assessment based on current testing methods has become questionable both economically and scientifically specifically when the shelf-life of food products such as meat & produce products is very short. 

 In addition to intimin/ Shiga toxin, there are other recognized, and likely unrecognized, additional virulence determinants required for reliable detection and confirmation of pathogenic STEC.  The FDA, CDC, FSIS, and other agencies believe that enhancing the scientific information available on STECs and improved detection and identification methodologies will result in reduced STEC illnesses.  Therefore, the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) subcommittee was charged to identify virulence factors and attributes that define foodborne STEC as severe human pathogens.

 In this session, the world renowned STEC experts will evaluate the current state of STEC testing of U.S. beef products from regulatory and industry perspectives. Further, the NACMCF sub-committee objectives will be described in addressing current STEC testing issues.  New approaches for STEC testing based on virulence factors along with a future roadmap will be discussed.

 The talks will be concluded with an interactive panel discussion ensuring participation from audience geared towards ‘if it should be a testing for pathogenic E. coli or just Top-7’. A one-page summary of the session will be published as a white paper in Food Protection Trends.


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