USDA Sets New Standards for Ground Beef Purchases

May 13, 2010 07:00 PM

Beef Today Editors

USDA had completed tough new food safety standards for ground beef purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for Federal food and nutrition assistance programs including school lunches.

The new requirements will be applicable to AMS ground beef contracts awarded on or after July 1, 2010.

In addition to continuing a zero tolerance for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, the new AMS standards will:

  1. Tighten microbiological testing protocols;
  2. Tighten the microbiological upper specification and critical limits;
  3. Increase microbiological sampling frequency for finished products to every 15 minutes; and,
  4. Institute additional rejection criteria for source trimmings used to manufacture AMS purchased ground beef. AMS will also consider any vendor classified by FSIS as having a long term poor safety record as an ineligible vendor until a complete cause-and-effect analysis is completed.

This past February, Vilsack announced a series of initiatives to improve the safety of food purchased for school lunch and nutrition assistance programs, and these new standards marks the completion of one of those initiatives. The standards are the result of a joint review by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and Agricultural Research Service (ARS) that has been ongoing since the February announcement.

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has begun its review of AMS ground beef purchase requirements.

Source: USDA

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