The Office of Public Health and Science (OPHS) in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food
Safety and Inspection Service (USDA/FSIS) conducted a farm-to-table risk assessment to
evaluate the public health impact from Escherichia coli O157:H7 in ground beef. This risk
assessment was initiated in response to the identification of E. coli O157:H7 in cattle, on
carcasses, and in ground beef, as well as heightened public awareness of the association of E.
coli O157:H7 with foodborne outbreaks that have resulted in severe illness and death. The
purpose of this risk assessment is to systematically evaluate and integrate available scientific
data and information to
• provide a comprehensive evaluation of the risk of illness from E. coli O157:H7 in ground
beef based on currently available data,
• estimate the likelihood of human morbidity and mortality associated with specific
numbers of E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef servings,
• estimate the occurrence and extent of E. coli O157:H7 contamination at points along the
• provide a tool for analyzing how to most effectively mitigate the risk of illness from E.
coli O157:H7 in ground beef (one that is useful for Pathogen Reduction and Hazard
Analysis and Critical Control Point applications),
• identify future food safety research needs, and
• assist FSIS in the review and refinement of its integrated risk reduction strategy for E.
coli O157:H7 in ground beef.