From Oct 11 Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON -- U.S. officials are preparing to acknowledge publicly that it isn't just one type of E. coli bacteria that is making consumers sick, and government agencies are meeting next week in Virginia to discuss what they should do about it.
For years, only one strain -- E. coli 0157:H7 -- has been the focus of government oversight and has prompted massive nationwide food recalls. But evidence has been piling up in the past several years to show there are other forms of dangerous E. coli bacteria that may be just as deadly to humans.
Food contaminated with E. coli 0157:H7, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, can be the "cause of outbreaks of bloody diarrhea, often leading to severe and fatal illness."
While the National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list just 501 cases of illness caused by these other dangerous E. coli bacteria in 2005, the number is probably much greater than that, USDA Undersecretary for Food Safety Richard Raymond said.
"It is definitely increasing, and it is definitely in the U.S.," Mr. Raymond said. "It's making people sick and making people die, the same as E. coli 0157:H7."
In fact, about 20% of the people who get sick from E. coli in the U.S., he said, are probably suffering because they ate food contaminated with strains of the bacteria that most inspectors weren't looking for.