FSIS (the USDA’s food safety and inspection service) has had a standardized test for Non-O157 STECs now for some time, but has not taken the step of designating these bad bugs as “adulterants” in the meat supply.  So the reason why is not related to having the ability to meaningfully monitor for non-O157 STECs.  O157 testing has undoutedly had a positive effect in reducing the incidence of O157 in our meat supply (see Ground Beef and E. coli: what kind of summer will it be?).  So the reason why is also not that declaring non-O157 strains adulterants will not have an effect.  And neither have non-O157 STEC outbreaks been all that uncommon (see below).  So, then, what is the reason? 

Here is a list of non-O157 STEC outbreaks since 1990.  Not all were caused by contaminated ground beef, but the point is that non-O157 STECs are quite common in the environment, and warrant additional regulatory measures, as well as the beef industry safeguards that will follow FSIS’s action in declaring them adulterants.  The following list is courtesy of www.outbreakdatabase.com