The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service on Wednesday said it is proposing to require that all makers of raw ground beef products keep records to further protect consumers by ensuring retailers can trace sources of ground meats.
Retail outlets regularly make ground beef by mixing cuts of beef from various sources. This proposal, if finalized, will require them to keep clear records identifying the source, supplier, and names of all materials used in the preparation of raw ground beef products.
"The improved traceback capabilities that would result from this proposal will prevent foodborne illness by allowing FSIS to conduct recalls of potentially contaminated raw ground products in a timelier manner," said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm. "By requiring retail outlets to maintain improved records on sources for ground products, the proposal will enable FSIS to quickly identify likely sources of contaminated product linked to an outbreak."
When foodborne illness outbreaks occur, public health officials work to trace ground beef product back to its source so that any potentially unsafe product can be identified and removed from commerce.
Traceback investigations can be hindered when retail outlets 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.
FSIS has concluded that recordkeeping by retail facilities that grind raw beef to date, has not been sufficiently effective. In previous Federal Register notices, in the updated Food and Drug Administration Food Code, at industry meetings and in 2009 guidance provided at a retail industry association, FSIS has stressed the importance of maintaining appropriate records to aid in the identification of FSIS-regulated products associated with foodborne illnesses during recall traceback and traceforward or other food safety incidents.
The comment period will end 60 days after the proposal publishes in the Federal Register.