Overall contamination rate for generic E. coli was 5.4% for raw milk cheese aged 60 days from 1,606 samples tested in 2014 and 2015. Generic E. coli rarely causes illness but is used as an indicator of unsanitary processing conditions.
The agency said it does not anticipate additional large-scale sampling but remains concerned about Listeria in raw milk cheese, which is a ready to eat food.
FDA selected the commodity because evidence indicated that aging raw milk cheese for 60 days may not eliminate or adequately reduce disease-causing bacteria in the product.
The agency is also collecting and testing 1,600 samples for Salmonella spp. and E. coli O157:H7 in cucumbers, and Salmonella spp., STEC and E. coli O157:H7 in hot peppers.
It has tested 452 samples of hot peppers and 352 of cucumbers. Of those, 13 of the hot pepper samples and three cucumber ones tested positive for Salmonella while the rest tested negative for the targeted pathogens.
Results are part of a sampling plan FDA adopted in 2014 for various commodities to learn more about the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria and to help identify patterns that may help predict and prevent future contamination.