October 20, 2014

USDA Details Changes to Salmonella Testing in Raw Beef

Beef-Carcass

The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published a notice in the Federal Register, asking for comments about changes to its procedures for Salmonella sampling of raw beef products. FSIS is going to begin sampling for Salmonella in all raw beef that it collects for Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) analysis. Deadline for comment submissions is September 27, 2013. The testing will be conducted on raw ground beef, beef manufacturing trimmings, bench trim, and other raw ground beef components. The analytic sample portion will increase from 25 grams to 325 grams. In 2011, FSIS stopped sampling and testing for Salmonella in beef because positive findings were less than 1% and sampling is expensive. But now FSIS has selected Salmonella for the performance … [Read more...]

No, Canada. US Consumer Groups Don’t Want Canadian Meat Inspections On Fast Track

Ground Beef

Just as the US is rolling out a pilot program to fast-track inspections on meat from Canadian producers, XL Foods of Edmonton, Alberta announces a massive recall and then expands it three times over the course of three days. Fluke or foreshadowing? US consumer groups say the latter and they want the program ended immediately. “Canada’s food safety track record is at an all-time low with more than a third of all Canadians getting sick from food-related causes every year,” said Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch’s executive director. “Yesterday, the Canadian government announced an expansion of a recall involving ground beef products sold across Canada at Loblaws, Costco, Walmart, Safeway and Calahoo Meats stores, produced by XL Foods, one of Canada’s biggest exporters. But USDA … [Read more...]

Food Safety Bloopers Volume 2

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This week's edition of Food Safety Bloopers is all about Rachael Ray. If you're interested in food safety, you probably already heard about this. Ms. Ray has just released a new book called The Book of Burger. She appeared on The View on Wednesday, June 6 to promote the book and made burgers for the ladies who host that show. She told Whoopi Goldberg, who questioned the safety of her pink burger, that it was perfectly fine to eat burgers that are still pink. She said, "absolutely, 100 per cent; we made that grind ourselves. If you know the quality of your meat and buy something that says organic or grass-fed, you're going to be fine if you like your burger a little pinker." It is not safe to eat any ground meat, whether it's beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or lamb, unless it's cooked … [Read more...]

USDA Announces New Traceback Policy for Contaminated Beef

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Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA's Under Secretary for Food Safety, announced in a press conference on May 2, 2012 that the government is changing its traceback policy for contaminated beef that test positive for shiga-toxin producing E. coli bacteria (STEC). "Our keys goals are to strengthen our ability to protect consumers and to bolster prevention-based public safeguards," she said. "We are going to use traceback policies as a proactive measure, launching the investigations earlier to identify contaminated products before they reach consumers." Traceback is the path investigators follow to find out where the contaminated product came from, and to discover where bacteria were introduced into the product. The new policy will allow the USDA to begin traceback and investigations if … [Read more...]

Study of At-Home Burger and Salad Preparations Finds Risky Behaviors

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When University of California-Davis food safety researcher Dr. Christine Bruhn set out to observe 200 households as they prepared burgers and a salad at their home, there was no way to hide the fact that their movements were being watched. Despite the videotape intrusion, consumers in the observational study were extremely prone to engage in dangerous methods of handling their food, according to her recent research paper published by the Journal of Food Protection. Bruhn, a UC-Davis faculty member whose research focuses on consumer issues in food safety and quality, will present her findings Tuesday in the inaugural Fight BAC! Brown Bag Webinar Series. The webinar is entitled: "What's Going on in the Kitchen? Food Safety Practices." Bruhn told Food Poisoning Bulletin that she'll also … [Read more...]

USDA Issues Three Beef Inspection Notices

Ground Beef

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service issued three notices about beef inspection this week that provide instruction on: sampling raw beef for the National School Lunch Program, selecting raw beef trim for test samples and for receiving, inspecting and slaughtering live cattle imported from Mexico. National School Lunch Program  The USDA “has become aware that additional instructions are needed” for personnel inspecting beef destined for the school lunch program. Inspectors should collect samples for E.coli testing even if the establishment does its own testing. In addition, inspectors should collect follow-up samples when either a USDA sample or a sample collected by the establishment tests  positive for E. coli O157:H7. Beef Trim … [Read more...]

Pink Burgers Still on the Menu

Burger with E.coli

Despite repeated warnings about consuming undercooked ground beef, a survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), published by the Journal of Food Protection found that millions of Americans still like medium or medium-rare burgers. Based on the recent outbreaks of Salmonella food poisoning from ground beef, this survey is disheartening. Ground beef is often contaminated with pathogens. In fact, it's perfectly legal to sell raw meat that contains any bacteria other than E. coli 0157:H7. The USDA assumes that the consumer is cooking the meat well-done, which does destroy bacteria. Contamination of the beef can happen at any stage of processing. The cow itself may be contaminated. Feces can come into contact with the meat at the slaughterhouse. Faulty handling procedures may cause … [Read more...]

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