Beef Today Editors
Walmart announced that it will implement additional beef safety measures designed to further protect customers against foodborne illnesses. The new process controls standards and goals are additions to a food safety program that already requires ground beef suppliers to test for E.coli O157:H7 and achieve prevention-based certification against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) internationally recognized standards.
"At Walmart and Sam's Club, our commitment to providing our customers with safe, quality foods is unparalleled,” said Vice President for Food Safety Frank Yiannas. "As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we go further than many U.S. retailers in requiring leading-edge food safety standards throughout the entire food production chain.”
"In light of recent beef recalls, we determined it was prudent to require an additional layer of protection for our customers,” he said.
The new program requires Walmart and Sam's Club beef suppliers to implement controls that would significantly reduce potential contamination levels and validate that the measures they've implemented are effective through specialized testing.
Suppliers who do not operate slaughter houses must be in compliance with the new standard by June 2011. For beef slaughterhouse suppliers, there is a two-step approach with the first step to be completed by June 2011 and the second by June 2012.
Walmart and Sam's Club will work closely with beef suppliers to ensure that the new requirement is implemented without additional cost to customers.
The protocol has been reviewed with numerous stakeholders including consumer groups, regulators, academicians, beef suppliers, and industry associations.
Dr. James Marsden of Kansas State University stated, "Walmart has taken steps to provide its customers with the safest possible beef products. Consumers across the United States will benefit greatly from this timely food safety initiative.”
According to Jim Dickson, Iowa State University Professor of Animal Science, "Walmart is taking a progressive approach to assuring the safety of the foods they sell. This is a win for the consumers, the beef industry in general, and Walmart. The lessons learned from Walmart's approach will be applicable to ground beef sold everywhere."
Several consumer groups have also expressed support for the measure.
Source: Walmart press release