USDA Beefs Up Product Tracing
USDA issues final rule imposing new recordkeeping requirements on beef producers to improve traceability.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulates the safety of meat products in the United States. In recent years, FSIS has struggled with limits on its ability to trace the source of foodborne illness outbreaks involving ground beef. For example, a 2011 outbreak of Salmonella in the northeastern states was difficult to trace because retail stores had mixed and ground cuts of beef from various sources and had not kept records of suppliers on file. In response to that outbreak, FDA published a proposed rule in 2014 to require official establishments and retail stores to maintain records related to suppliers and source materials.
FSIS now has issued a pre-publication version of a final rule to amend recordkeeping requirements for official establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef products for sale in commerce. Specifically, all such establishments must maintain the following records: (1) the establishment numbers of establishments supplying material used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef product; (2) all supplier lot numbers and production dates; (3) the names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next; (4) the date and time each lot of raw ground beef product is produced; and (5) the date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized. These requirements also apply to raw beef products ground at the request of an individual customer when new source materials are used. Records must be retained for one year after the date of the recorded grinding activity.
FSIS believes the final rule will provide a significant improvement in traceback capabilities that will facilitate recall efforts, stop outbreaks, and prevent additional foodborne illnesses. Establishments will have 180 days after publication in the Federal Register to comply with the new recordkeeping requirements.