The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering
expanded STEC testing to include ground beef

By News Desk, 19-Nov-2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering whether or not to expand its non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) testing to include ground beef and ground beef components beyond beef manufacturing trimmings.

This week, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) posted its analysis of estimated costs and benefits associated with implementing the additional testing.

Testing of beef manufacturing trimmings currently costs about $1.37 million each year and adding in raw ground beef, bench trim and other components would add $1 million.

The $2.37 million total would break down into $1.38 million is for FSIS and just under one million for the industry.
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The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is maintaining its position on the implementation of its Salmonella Action Plan

By Michael Fielding, 26-Jun-2014

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is maintaining its position on the implementation of its Salmonella Action Plan, in light of Wednesday’s introduction of legislation that would give the agency the authority to recall any product contaminated with salmonella and campylobacter.

On Wednessday, Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) introduced the bill, essentially forcing the issue nearly one month after a consumer health advocacy group filed a lawsuit alleging inaction by the USDA on a petition to declare antibiotic-resistant salmonella as an adulterant.

“We appreciate the Congresswomen’s ongoing efforts on our shared goal of ensuring food safety standards continue to be stringent, effective, and constantly improving,” according to an emailed statement to Meatingplace by an FSIS spokesperson. “FSIS will continue to work aggressively in preventing foodborne illness, including implementing the first ever performance standards for Salmonella in chicken parts and ground poultry later this year.”

The Salmonella Action Plan, released in December 2013, outlines several actions FSIS will take to drive innovations that will lower Salmonella contamination rates, including establishing new performance standards and developing new strategies for inspection and throughout the full farm-to-table continuum. (read more…)

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The USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced that it will delay the implementation of a controversial programme to test beef products for non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)

By Carina Perkins, 10-Feb-2012

The FSIS was due to start routine testing of raw ground beef and its components for six new serogroups of pathogenic E.coli (O26, O45, O103, O111, O121 and O145) on 5 March 2012, with any beef products found to carry the bacteria to be prohibited from entering the food chain.

However, it has now extended the implementation date until 4 June 2012 to “provide additional time for establishments to validate their test methods and detect these pathogens.”

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The delay has been welcomed by US meat industry representatives, who claim that the testing programme would be extremely costly with little benefit to public health, and should not go ahead without further research into the causes of E.coli infections and the validation of test methods to detect the bacteria.

James H. Hodges, executive vice president of the American Meat Institute, told GlobalMeatNews:

“According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) foodborne illness outbreak online database there has been only one recall for ground beef products that may have been contaminated with one of these six STECs involving 8,500lbs of ground beef and associated with three illnesses in New York and Maine. Otherwise there have been zero beef related outbreaks related to these six strains since 1998.”
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