In 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) adopted a new, proactive sampling program for a variety of commodities--specifically raw milk cheese aged 60 days, cucumbers, and hot peppers--to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria and to help the agency identify patterns that may help predict and prevent future contamination. These large-scale microbiological sampling assignments were designed to collect a statistically determined number of samples of certain commodities in 12 to 18 months and test them for certain types of bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses.
This month, FDA has released new updates for each commodity sampled.
Cucumber Results as of 10/1/2016
The FDA plans to collect 1,600 cucumber samples (384 domestic, and 1,216 of international origin) under this assignment. As of the end of FY16, the agency had collected 292 domestic samples (76 percent) and 758 import samples (62 percent) of the totals. Testing is still underway.
Hot Pepper Results as of 10/1/2016
The FDA plans to collect 1,600 hot pepper samples (320 domestic, and 1,280 of international origin) under this assignment. As of the end of FY16, the agency had collected 229 domestic samples (72 percent) and 901 import samples (70 percent) of the totals. Testing is still underway.
The FDA collects imported samples from ports of entry (where foreign goods are cleared for entry into the country) and domestic and import samples from packing houses, manufacturers and distributors within the United States. The FDA is testing cucumbers and hot peppers for two common foodborne pathogens: Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7. The agency also plans to test hot peppers for Shiga toxin producing E. coli and will conduct whole genomic sequence testing on any samples that test positive to obtain the genetic ‘fingerprint’ of the pathogen (this information is added to the databases used to match human illnesses with potential food sources). Updates and results will continue to be published on a quarterly basis.
Hot Peppers, Cucumbers and Raw Milk Cheese: FDA Shares New Sampling Data