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Timeline of Events Related to E. coli O157:H7

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1993: There is a major outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses in the Northwest associated with consumption of undercooked ground beef.

1994: FSIS declares E. coli O157:H7 to be an adulterant.
Related Information

Compliance Assistance - Guidance Documents

Risk Assessments

10,000 Series Directives: Laboratory Services

Past Meetings

1997: CDC, FDA, and FSIS partnership establishes Healthy People 2010 goal for E. coli O157:H7. With the baseline year of 1997, the U.S. government target is to reduce the infections caused by E. coli O157:H7 by half from 2.1 cases per 100,000 people to 1.0 case per 100,000 by 2010.

October 1997: FSIS changed its lab methodology to increase the amount analyzed from a 25 g sample to a 325 g sample to provide increased detection sensitivity.

January 19, 1999: FSIS publishes "Beef Products Contaminated with E. coli O157:H7," to explain the Agency's policy regarding inspection and enforcement of meat products that contain E. coli O157:H7.

March 8, 1999: FSIS holds a public meeting to discuss January 1999 Notice.

September 3, 1999: A new selection and detection method is introduced to further increase test sensitivity.

February 29, 2000: FSIS holds another public meeting on E. coli O157:H7.

September 7, 2001: FSIS releases the "Draft Risk Assessment of the Public Health Impact of Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Ground Beef."

July 2002: A Colorado firm recalls approximately 18 million pounds of beef trim and ground beef products linked to E. coli O157:H7. Approximately 43 human illnesses are reported linked with the recalled products.

June-October 2002: CDC, State health departments and FSIS investigate multi-state E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks.

September 2002: FSIS releases guidance documents to assist the industry in combating E. coli O157:H7. The documents include "Guidance for Minimizing the Risk of Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in Beef Slaughter Operations," "Guidance for Beef Grinders and Suppliers of Boneless Beef and Trim Products: Guidance for Minimizing Impact Associated with Food Safety Hazards in Raw Ground," and "Guidance on Ingredients and Sources of Radiation Used to Reduce Microorganisms on Carcasses, Ground Beef, and Beef Trimmings."

September and October 2002: A Wisconsin firm recalls approximately 2.8 million pounds of ground beef products due to E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

October 7, 2002: FSIS publishes notice in the Federal Register titled " E. coli O157:H7 Contamination of Beef Products." The Notice requires all manufacturers of beef products to reassess their HACCP plans regarding E. coli O157:H7 contamination because scientific evidence showed the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7 on live cattle coming to slaughter was higher than expected.

November 2002: FSIS creates a beef supplier database for ground beef positive samples. Specially-training FSIS staff conduct in-depth assessments.

January 2003: The beef industry holds a summit to create a unified, comprehensive platform with the goal of defining and documenting industry practices to reduce E. coli O157:H7.

Since 2002, following the reassessment of the HACCP plans and other actions taken by FSIS, the industry introduces several mitigation strategies to reduce the prevalence of E. coli O157:H7. These strategies include stopping the practice of carrying over product from one production day to the next, testing the hides and pre-eviscerated carcasses of cattle in order to benchmark whether and how the sanitary dressing procedures and antimicrobial interventions are effective in reducing bacterial contamination, targeting research to develop effective intervention strategies, and implementing robust microbiological testing schemes. Many of the strategies are still ongoing and continue to effectively combat the E. coli O157:H7 pathogen.

2003: Three outbreaks of E. coli O157:H7 are reported and associated with mechanically tenderized beef products.

April 2003: FSIS issues a Notice 11-03 regarding the upcoming high prevalence season. The Notice announces increased verification efforts. In addition, the Notice discontinued the grinding plant sample selection criteria which exempted plants from testing if the establishment had a testing program. FSIS inspection program personnel also advise plant management to hold sampled lots until laboratory results are final.

2003: FSIS announces greater inspection of materials (pre-chilled meat removed from the head and the esophagus) used to formulate ground beef for antimicrobial contamination.

March 31, 2004: FSIS revises FSIS Directive 10,010.1, "Microbiological Testing Program and Other Verification Activities for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Raw Ground Beef Products and Raw Ground Beef Components and Beef Patty Components."

April 13, 2004: FSIS releases "Compliance Guidelines for Establishments on the FSIS Microbiological Testing Program and Other Verification Activities for Escherichia coli
O157:H7."

April 2004: CDC releases its annual figures from 2003 FoodNet data. The data reveals that the E. coli O157:H7 illnesses rate is 1.1 illnesses per 100,000 people.

2005: The total number of FSIS recalls associated with E. coli O157:H7 is 5. This number shows that along with the drop in positive E. coli O157:H7 samples, there is a corresponding drop in recalls. In previous years, the recalls associated with E. coli O157:H7 was 13 (1998), 9 (1999), 21 (2000), 19 (2001), 21 (2002), 12 (2003), and 6 (2004).

April 2005: CDC annual 2004 FoodNet data shows that the United States is below the Healthy People 2010 goal. The incidence rate is 0.9 illnesses per 100,000 people. The total reduction of foodborne illnesses associated with the pathogen have dropped 42% since 1996.

May 26, 2005: FSIS publishes a Notice in the Federal Register requiring establishments that process mechanically tenderized beef products to account for E. coli O157:H7 in their next annual HACCP assessment. This Notice responds to the 2003 outbreaks associated these products.

October 2005: BAX, a new screening method, is introduced to reduce the number of screen positives that do not confirm positive.
Last Modified Jun 23, 2013