Economic Incentives for Innovation: E. coli O157:H7 in US Beef

  • Tanya RobertsEmail author
Part of the Food Microbiology and Food Safety book series (FMFS)


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.


E. 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


Pathogen reduction


Shiga toxin-producing E. coli


Safe Tables Our Priority


United States


US Department of Agriculture


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economic Research Service, USDA (retired)Center for Foodborne Illness Research and PreventionVashonUSA

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