Under a new USDA policy, the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will launch traceback investigations earlier when the Agency finds E. coli O157:H7 through its routine sampling program. When FSIS receives an indication of E. coli contamination, it says it will move quickly to identify the supplier of the product and any processors that received contaminated product from the supplier, once confirmation is received.

“The additional safeguards we are announcing today will improve our ability to prevent foodborne illness by strengthening our food safety infrastructure,” says USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “Together, these measures will provide us with more tools to protect our food supply, resulting in stronger public health protections for consumers.”

The new regulations, published as a Final Rule and directed by Congress, place new requirements on manufacturers, producers and processors. They require establishments to prepare and maintain recall procedures, to notify FSIS within 24 hours that a meat or poultry product that could harm consumers has been shipped into commerce and to document each reassessment of their HACCP system food safety plans.

FSIS has posted for public comment a draft guidance document for plants on the steps necessary to establish that their HACCP food safety systems will work as designed.