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Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli (STEC) Threats to the New Zealand Economy. Dr Roger Cook Assistant Director (Science) & Principal Adviser (Microbiology). Threats via Where?. Absenteeism or Trade?. Absenteeism 90-100 notified cases a year (c.w. campylobacteriosis)

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Shiga toxin producing e coli stec threats to the new zealand economy l.jpg

Shiga Toxin-ProducingE. coli (STEC)Threats to the New Zealand Economy

Dr Roger Cook

Assistant Director (Science) & Principal Adviser (Microbiology)

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Threats via Where?

Absenteeism or Trade?

  • Absenteeism

    • 90-100 notified cases a year (c.w. campylobacteriosis)

    • Small threat, more so if a serious outbreak

  • Trade (Primary threat)

    • Not disregarding human health

      • Not one case attributed to NZ beef or veal

    • Primarily lost trade in beef

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58% of $1.7b = $1b

Worthy of protection

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Potted History

STECs & E. coli O157:H7

  • 1982 O157 first detected in the United States

  • 1976 O26 in NZ beef in Canada

    • Dr Karl Bettleheim, Heather Brooks, ESR, USDA-ARS – STECs common (not O157)

  • 1991 MIRINZ O157:H7 proposal to HRC

    • No bodies, no funding

  • 1993 cases reported in NZ

  • 1993 …

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Incident that Changed History




E. coli O157:H7



= Big Trouble

US industry not under adequate control

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MegaReg (United States)

Pathogen Reduction HACCP Rule 1995

  • Mandatory (1997)

    • E. coli biotype 1 testing (faecal contamination)

    • Sanitation standard operating procedures + ZFT

    • Salmonella testing (FSIS)

    • Decontamination interventions

    • E. coli O157 in ground beef (FSIS)

  • Commercial (1998) with a subtle FSIS push

    • E. coli O157:H7

      • Assurances for raw materials

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MegaReg (Imports)

NZ view: Imposed, without a risk-basisTheir problem, not ours!!

  • SSOPs

    • New Zealand GHP and MAF Manuals

  • Microbiological monitoring

    • Extensive since 1965, and NMD

    • Salmonella testing (never on carcasses)

    • Not an O157 problem in New Zealand

      • Low number human cases

      • 2900 beef carcasses negative

    • DON’T need decontamination (>$$$)

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Barriers to trade : Pre WTO

Technical Barriers

Tariff Barriers

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Barriers to trade : GATT

GATT removed tariff barriers, but technical barriers remained

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Barriers to trade : WTO SPS

WTO SPS Agreement + Codex Standards


Risk basis


Trade parity for New Zealand

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O157 Equivalence

We fought, we lost

  • Commercial, not FSIS

    • Avoided SPS risk requirement

    • Importers terrified of a recall

  • But then we won …

    • Our own bulk meat E. coli O157:H7 (1998) programme acceptable to MICA. Daily testing, all US–listed premises

    • National database

  • Did avoid decontam. interventions

    • Huge cost saving

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Reasonably Unlikely to Occur

Composite analyses positive (4y)

  • If all five in a composite positive

    • Just 2/28,430 tests (0.01%)

  • If just one in a composite positive

    • Just 2/142,151 cartons (0.002%)

  • One test positive = 1 days production lost to the US market

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Twist-in-the Tale

Setback - Bobby veal (2003)

  • FSIS ground beef detection

    • NZ bobby veal

    • How? Historically retorted. Changing use. Boutique low fat burgers from trim from table cuts.

    • Accidental findings in NZ

  • Protection of adult beef trade

    • NMD profile worse

    • Separate O157:H7 programme

    • Decontamination interventions implemented

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1998-2007 Negligible Prevalence

Composite analyses positive

  • Adult beef

    • 18/63,275 tests (0.04%)

    • 18/316,275 cartons (0.002%)

  • Bobby calf

    • 815/29,854 tests (2.73%)

      • Same as US beef

      • Small proportion going to ground beef

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A New Environment (2007-2008)

The year from ….

  • US lost control of theirE. coli O157

  • New requirements (again for imports)

    • Increased border testing and recall

    • New regulatory raw material testing (pre-test)

      • Increased sample number

      • Increased sample size and surface

      • Increased method sensitivity

      • Non-toxigenic isolates now deemed positive

      • Increased corrective action review and escalated testing.

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Risk to New Zealand

Border Testing

  • Microbiological separation of lots

    • A container tests positive

    • All product from any processing day in that container is affected

    • Split shipments – subsequent and PRECEDING

    • Recall of product already in the US, perhaps processed

  • Untenable to US importers and NZ exporters.

    • Trade ceased temporarily BUT for what risk?

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Risk to New Zealand

Top level negotiations – risk mitigated

  • FSIS agreed to:

    • O157 is of negligible prevalence (beef, not bobby)

    • A container is a separate unit. Only product from a single days prod’n tested (mixed days in container)

    • Only product in that container from that day affected

    • N60 to be implemented in NZ, and PFGE profiles to FSIS to facilitate attribution to NZ

  • But still a huge risk

    • Every detection in the US raises flags

    • Bobbies?

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Risk to New Zealand

Amended NZ Monitoring programme

  • Risk of more detections?

    • More samples

    • Greater sample size

    • Counting atoxigenic isolates

    • Bobbies?

  • Too soon to tell

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NZFSA Performance Target

E. coli O157:H7 prevalence in bobby veal

  • Reduce by 50% by 2012.

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Research (NZ Context)

  • Source attribution (molecular)

  • Primary reservoir

  • Transmission pathways on farm

    • Changing husbandry

    • Herd homes

  • Transportation

  • Effect of processing and inspection

  • Decontamination

    • Optimisation

    • Ozone

    • Bacteriophage

  • Refrigeration

  • Method validation & molecular typing

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  • No evidence of a risk of NZ beef or bobby veal to human health in NZ and the US.

    • Fingers crossed

    • Strategies in place

  • Testing requirements and actions on detection are economically onerous and threaten beef exports.

  • Recently advised initiatives from the US further threaten the $1b US beef export market.

    • Offal type muscle meats

    • Primal (table) cuts

    • Non-O157 STECs

  • Research (attibution and control) imperative