Economic Incentives for Innovation: E. coli O157:H7 in US Beef
The 1993 outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 in hamburger inspired innovation in both the US public and private sectors. The Food Safety and Inspection Service in US Department of Agriculture declared E. coli O157:H7 an “adulterant” in 1994 and required meat and poultry companies to design and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point systems to control foodborne pathogens in 1996. In response to the outbreak and new regulations, companies invented the Bacterial Pathogen Sampling and Testing Program for the hamburger patty production line as well as steam pasteurization of sides of beef at the end of the slaughter line. These innovations were profitable to the inventors. The increased pressure by regulators to control pathogens also provided incentives for pathogen control, including the incentive of sales to USDA’s National School Lunch Program. One company did not comply, had an outbreak, and sold off its beef plants.
KeywordsE. coli O157 Food safety Pathogen testing Beef carcass steam pasteurization Process verification Innovation Research and development Adulteration Economic incentives Texas American Foodservice, Inc. HACCP
Aerobic plate counts
USDA’s Agricultural Research Service
Beef Industry Food Safety Council
Bacterial Pathogen Sampling and Testing Program
Beef steam pasteurization system
BSPS-Static Chamber unit
Critical control point
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
US Department of Justice
Economic Research Service
US Food and Drug Administration
Food Safety and Inspection Service
Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point
Hemolytic uremic syndrome
International Association for Food Protection
Kansas State University
Memorandum of understanding
National Cattlemen’s Beef Association
National School Lunch Program
Office of Inspector General/USDA
Shiga toxin-producing E. coli
Safe Tables Our Priority
US Department of Agriculture
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