USDA finalizes rule to ensure tracking of ground meat sources
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a new measure that will improve the agency’s ability to determine the source of foodborne illnesses linked to ground beef, stopping foodborne illness outbreaks sooner when they occur. Based on lessons learned from previous outbreak investigations, FSIS is requiring that all makers of raw ground beef products keep adequate records of the source material, so that the agency can quickly work with the suppliers to recall contaminated product.
According to FSIS outbreak investigations are hindered when stores produce ground beef by mixing product from various sources, but fail to keep clear records that would allow investigators to determine the supplier of the tainted product. FSIS says the new requirement complements expedited traceback and traceforward procedures announced in August 2014 that enhance the agency’s ability to quickly and broadly investigate food safety breakdowns in the event of an outbreak connected to ground beef.
“This is a common-sense step that can prevent foodborne illness and increase consumer confidence when they purchase ground beef,” says Al Almanza, deputy under secretary for food safety. “In the event that unsafe product does make it into commerce, these new procedures will give us the information we need to act much more effectively to keep families across the country safe.”
Under the new final rule, establishments that grind raw beef products must maintain the following records: the establishment numbers of establishments supplying material used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef product; all supplier lot numbers and production dates; the names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next; the date and time each lot of raw ground beef product is produced; and the date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.
The final rule can be viewed at: www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/interim-and-final-rules.