The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and DuPont are developing a new test for detecting hard-to-identify strains of E. coli.

These strains, which are not currently regulated, have been causing increased instances of food contamination and illness—hence the focus. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) of the USDA will collaborate with DuPont Qualicon to develop a test for the "Big 6" non-O157 shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) pathogens in food. "The USDA continually looks for opportunities to collaborate in ways that will expedite research to assist regulatory agencies and move technologies into the marketplace," said Pina Fratamico, a USDA ARS research microbiologist. "This collaborative project to develop a discriminating STEC test is a good fit with our mission."


The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimate that non-O157 STEC bacteria are responsible for 36,000 illnesses, 1,000 hospitalizations and 30 deaths each year.