Concerns of the closing of beef plants in the U.S. due to contamination of the pathogens such as, Escherichia coli 0157:H7 have triggered the banding of regulatory agencies and beef producers to review safety programs from over 1,000 plants. Significant progress in the reduction of contaminated beef is attributed to the analysis and revision of safety programs like High Analysis of Critical Control Points (HACCP) and Current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs).
The FDA and USDA’s FSIS report a drop in samples showing pathogen contamination. From samples collected and analyzed through Aug. 31, 2003, results reflected a 46 percent drop for E. coli O157:H7, compared to results from 2002 and a 25 percent drop in the percentage of positive Listeria monocytogenes samples.
The E. coli 0157:H7 is typically contracted through contaminated food (often uncooked beef) or water. Several strains of E. coli and Listeria monocytogenes (listeria) are among the most serious pathogens infecting U.S. meat today. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that food-borne illnesses caused by E. coli 0157:H7 kill an average of 60 Americans annually. Listeriosis affects an estimated 2,500 persons resulting in 500 cases involving death.