New guides in place for beef safety
New guidance practices for sampling, lotting and testing beef products were released recently at the ninth annual Beef Industry Food Safety Summit, hosted by the Beef Industry Food Safety Council, funded in part by the Beef Checkoff Program. The new "Guidance Document for Sampling and Lotting of Beef Products and Sample Analysis for Pathogens" will assist beef processing companies in implementing proven pathogen-testing programs as part of a multiple-hurdle food safety system aimed at advancing beef safety.
"Our No. 1 goal is to eliminate pathogens from the beef supply by placing multiple hurdles along the beef production chain. Product testing is a way to validate that the multiple hurdles are working to reduce the incidence of potential pathogens in the food supply," said James O. Reagan, Ph.D., chairman of BIFSCo and senior vice president of research, education and innovation for the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program. "This new guidance document brings together the industry's best knowledge, coupled with years of experience in developing efficient and accurate sampling, lotting and pathogen analysis systems. Effective and accurate sampling, lotting and testing schemes are essential in establishing sound food safety programs for the beef industry."
The new guidelines plainly explain the proper procedures and methods that should be used to sample, lot and analyze different types of beef products, such as whole muscle cuts, trimmings destined for ground beef production, as well as frozen ground beef. While the guidelines are voluntary, they simplify the process for companies that are revising their current sampling programs or creating new ones. They also identify the expectations and issues that should be considered when developing a program for pathogen testing.
"The new guidance document is a great resource that provides step by step procedures for sampling, lotting and analyzing beef and beef products for the presence of pathogens," said Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, undersecretary for food safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. "This is an important step forward in our collective efforts to ensure consistent results in the industry's food safety programs."
The industry's "best practices," developed through BIFSCo, serve as a roadmap for implementing the most current safety knowledge to optimize safety programs and are available online, free of charge, to beef processors, packers, grinders and others involved in advancing beef safety at www.bifsco.org.
"This new initiative is another way of driving home our commitment to providing the safest beef products possible to our domestic and global beef consumers," said Chad Martin, senior director of food safety and quality assurance with Tyson Foods. "The Beef Industry Food Safety Council unites the industry around the common goal of improving beef safety."
This year's summit also included sessions on non-intact beef products, system validation and recently completed research projects. First held in 2003, the Beef Industry Safety Summit is a cornerstone for discussing solutions to current and emerging beef safety challenges. BIFSCo also hosts regional meetings throughout the year to address current and emerging food safety challenges.
BIFSCo is funded in part by the beef checkoff. Beef producers, through the beef checkoff, have invested more than 29 million dollars in beef safety since 1993.