A total of 896 samples of retail fresh meats and poultry was assayed for Escherichia coli serogroup O157:H7 by a hydrophobic grid membrane filter-immunoblot procedure developed specifically to isolate the organism from foods. The procedure involves several steps, including selective enrichment, filtration of enrichment culture through hydrophobic grid membrane filters, incubation of each filter on nitrocellulose paper on selective agar, preparation of an immunoblot (by using antiserum to E. coli O157:H7 culture filtrate) of each nitrocellulose paper, selection from the filters of colonies which corresponded to immunopositive sites on blots, screening of isolates by a Biken test for precipitin lines from metabolites and antiserum to E. coli O157:H7 culture filtrate, and confirmation of isolates as Vero cell cytotoxic E. coli O157:H7 by biochemical, serological, and Vero cell cytotoxicity tests. E. coli O157:H7 was isolated from 6 (3.7%) of 164 beef, 4 (1.5%) of 264 pork, 4 (1.5%) of 263 poultry, and 4 (2.0%) of 205 lamb samples. One of 14 pork samples and 5 of 17 beef samples contaminated with the organism were from Calgary, Alberta, Canada, grocery stores, whereas all other contaminated samples were from Madison, Wis., retail outlets. This is the first report of the isolation of E. coli O157:H7 from food other than ground beef, and results indicate that the organism is not a rare contaminant of fresh meats and poultry
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