FDA shares interim data from ongoing sampling program.

  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and industry are continually seeking innovative ways to curb foodborne illness outbreaks.  As covered previously on this blog, over the past several years, FDA has been executing a robust surveillance sampling program intended to promote food safety.  More specifically, in 2014, the FDA launched a proactive sampling program for a variety of commodities to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria, including identifying patterns that may help predict and prevent future contamination events.  This ongoing, large-scale microbiological sampling program involves the collection of a statistically determined number of samples of certain commodities over 12 to 18 months and testing them for certain types of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.  The FDA began sampling and testing cucumbers and hot peppers as these products have previously been associated with large-scale outbreaks of foodborne illness.
  • Today, the FDA shared interim data from its ongoing sampling program.  As of October 1, 2016, the Agency indicates that it has tested 1,050 cucumber samples and 1,130 hot pepper samples. Of the cucumber samples, 15 tested positive for Salmonella while the rest tested negative for all of the targeted pathogens. Of the hot pepper samples, 35 tested positive for Salmonella, and one tested positive for a strain of Shiga-toxin producing E. coli that was determined to be incapable of causing severe illness, while the rest tested negative for all of the targeted pathogens. The testing is still ongoing and no conclusions can be drawn at this time.
  • FDA indicates that as more data becomes available, the Agency will continue to share test results from sampling assignments, including total number of samples collected and tested, sample type, and pathogen detected for positive samples.