- The establishment numbers of establishments supplying material used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef product;
- All supplier lot numbers and production dates;
- The names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next;
- The date and time each lot of raw ground beef product is produced;
- The date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.
USDA News Releasehttp://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/news-releases-statements-transcripts/news-release-archives-by-year/archive/2015/nr-121415-01
USDA Finalizes Rule to Enhance Consumer Protection, Ensure Retailers Can Track Sources of Ground Meats
Congressional and Public Affairs Josh Stull, (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2015 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced a new measure that will improve the agency’s ability to determine the source of foodborne illnesses linked to ground beef, stopping foodborne illness outbreaks sooner when they occur. Based on lessons learned from previous outbreak investigations, FSIS is requiring that all makers of raw ground beef products keep adequate records of the source material, so that the agency can quickly work with the suppliers to recall contaminated product.
Outbreak investigations can be hindered when retail stores produce ground beef by mixing product from various sources but fail to keep clear records that would allow investigators to determine which supplier produced the unsafe product. This new requirement complements expedited traceback and traceforward procedures announced in August 2014 that enhance the agency’s ability to quickly and broadly investigate food safety breakdowns in the event of an outbreak connected to ground beef.
“This is a common-sense step that can prevent foodborne illness and increase consumer confidence when they purchase ground beef,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “In the event that unsafe product does make it into commerce, these new procedures will give us the information we need to act much more effectively to keep families across the country safe.”
Under the new final rule, FSIS is amending its recordkeeping regulations to require that all official establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef products maintain the following records: the establishment numbers of establishments supplying material used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef product; all supplier lot numbers and production dates; the names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next; the date and time each lot of raw ground beef product is produced; and 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 that are ground at an individual customer’s request when new source materials are used.
“The traceback mechanism provided for in this final rule will facilitate recall efforts that could stop outbreaks and prevent additional foodborne illnesses,” said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm. “USDA is committed to providing resources and assistance to makers of ground beef to ensure they can be a part of this important and essential new public health measure.”
Retail stores regularly produce raw ground beef for consumer sales by mixing cuts of beef from various sources. A 2011 Salmonella outbreak in Maine and parts of the northeastern region of the United States resulted in illnesses that could have been prevented if establishments had kept records of suppliers on file. As a result of this outbreak, on July 22, 2014, FSIS published a proposed rule (79 FR 42464) to require official establishments and retail stores to maintain records of their suppliers and source materials received. After receiving and considering comments, FSIS is announcing this final recordkeeping rule that ensures that public health officials have the ability to quickly search records to identify the exact source of the raw beef products during outbreak investigations.
The final rule can be viewed at: www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/interim-and-final-rules.
Over the past six years, USDA has collaborated extensively with other federal partners to safeguard America's food supply, prevent foodborne illnesses and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. USDA’s FSIS is working to strengthen federal food safety efforts and develop strategies that emphasize a three-dimensional approach to prevent foodborne illness: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery. Other steps taken to improve the safety of ground beef specifically include adopting a zero-tolerance policy for raw beef products containing six additional strains of shiga-toxin producing E. coli, expanding testing procedures for additional components of ground beef, and improving employee training to detect and reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination on beef carcasses.
Amplifier - October 2014
BEEF GRINDING LOGS FOR MEAT PROCESSORS
By Jonathan Campbell, Ph.D., Penn State University
By Jonathan Campbell, Ph.D., Penn State University
DO YOU GRIND BEEF TO BE SOLD AT RETAIL? On July 22, 2014, an FSIS proposed rule was published in the Federal Register (FR 79 Vol. 140) with the purpose of amending the 2009 record keeping regulations for establishments that grind beef. This proposed ruling states that "all official establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef products for sale in commerce must keep records that disclose the identity and contact information of the supplier of all source materials that they use in the preparation of each lot of raw ground beef." Although this is merely a proposed rule change to § 320 concerning records, registrations and reports in the Code of Federal Regulations, the impact for small and very small processors could be severe. The proposed ruling now includes retail exempt facilities, as well as official establishments, that grind beef for retail sales. The new rule, if implemented, would also require a "record [of] the names of those supplied source materials, including any beef components and any carryover from one production lot to the next."
Small and Very Small official and retail exempt meat processing establishments have always been very proud of the care and effort they take in crafting their products. Being conscious of what a production lot is and being able to define a lot in your unique plant is a fundamental component of this new ruling. For some retail establishments, a production day may be sufficient to define what a production lot is. Current thinking in the agency no longer accepts clean-up to clean-up as a production day. Clearly defining a production lot for your establishment is step 1. This could be as simple as defining a lot for a specific amount of product (e.g. 500lbs), so many hours of production or a certain processing area. Being a part of the local community and knowing where your meat comes from is considered to be a huge perk for many consumers. This new form of making a record of that fact could turn into a marketing opportunity, but it will definitely be a laborious record keeping adjustment for most meat processors. Step 2 is creating a code system for the defined production lot. A code date is one of the easiest ways to go about beginning a lot coding system. According to FSIS, "codes should not have meaning that is misleading to a consumer." It may seem confusing that a processor is trying to "code" their production in such a way as to trace back to a production date, but placing a code on a package or label that is not in compliance with § 381.129(c) and appears to be a calendar date is not appropriate. How then may a processor comply with code dates that link back to their days of production and make tracing products easier? A Julian date code is one way to appropriately code date your products. Julian days or dates take into account the number of the day in a given year. For example, October 1, 2014, is the 274th day of the year 2014. An acceptable Julian code would be Lot 27414 or Lot 14274. In either case, the day number and year are coded in such a way that a consumer does not necessarily link the code back to a calendar date. Some processors may also choose to put a reference code that has specific meaning to their process or product. For example, a time-stamp, a batch number, an establishment number, a SKU code or processing/packaging line number. Regardless of the methodology that is used, a clear understanding of the codes by management in your operation is necessary. If you are just starting to code your products, it is advisable to start simple and increase in complexity as needed.
The proposed ruling from FSIS also indicates that the grinding log must adequately "document lot numbers, the amount of the beef component used in each lot (in pounds), the date and time each lot of raw ground beef product was produced, and the date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces were cleaned and sanitized." Don’t forget also that all source material and "carryover" should be documented in the grinding log as well. This is where this ruling and logging of information begins to get complex, especially in establishments where labor forces are already stretched thin. Keeping complex issues as simple as possible and training your employees on accurately documenting these components of the record or grinding log is a good starting place. Carryover and comingling of production lots is never a good idea from a food safety, traceability and paperwork standpoint. Nonetheless, there may be times or instances when it is unavoidable, especially in a small establishment. If you comingle production lots in your plant, clearly showing source material in a beef grinding log could become very cumbersome.
Below is an example of a grinding log for beef and how to implement this type of record keeping system in your facility. (Source: Ihry et al 2014)
Notice that all of the suggested information outlined in the new ruling is contained in the grinding log, including the record of sanitation for the equipment. Although this is a good start to include all of the information outlined in the proposed rule, the production codes and date codes should not be replicated as is depicted in the example. Again, the use of code date rulings or Julian dates would be ideal and apply here. The comment period for this ruling ended September 22, 2014. Should the propose ruling become a final ruling without any changes made to it, many processors will have to begin keeping track of all source materials used to grind beef for retail.