For the first time since testing began in the 80s, E. Coli (Escherichia coli) has been detected in some Montana beef. Meat Inspection Bureau Chief Gary Hamel from the Montana Board of Livestock said the discovery was a “surprise.”

"It was a sample of ground beef that came back positive with E.Coli 15787, " Hamel said. "We took steps to mitigate that and the product was denatured and destroyed. In Montana, it was kind of a surprise because we've never had an E. coli positive sample, but this is something that is fairly routine across the rest of the country."

The E. coli was able to survive its journey through the meat plant because a rinsing machine wasn’t putting out water hot enough to kill the bacteria.

"It was a hot water rinse machine that wasn't reaching proper temperature," Hamel said. We have addressed that issue, we have increased the sampling that we put on that particular establishment, which means that we took eight additional samples of that product. The product was held, so none of the product entered commerce."

Hamel said that although the pathogen did enter the food system, the good news is that Montana’s safety network was able to mitigate the damage and keep it from getting to market.