September 27, 2023

USDA Issues New Beef Safety Rules

The USDA has announced two new safety rules for beef. The announcement was part of the Food Safety Working Group Report (FSWG), which was formed in 2009. The FSWG is led by the Obama administration and staffed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Roast-BeefThe new rules will take effect in 2012. They are:

  • Declare any beef that tests positive for any shigella toxin-producing E. coli bacteria “adulterated” and “unfit for sale”. The current rules only cover E. coli 0157:H7. Other E. coli strains cause more than 110,000 illnesses every year in the United States.
  • A “test and hold” policy will be in place for beef. Any beef lot selected for USDA testing will be held from the market until results show they are free of bacteria and other germs, and drug residues. The FDA estimates that this policy would have prevented 44 recalls in 2007, 2008, and 2009.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said that a 2009 egg safety rule should cut egg-related Salmonella cases by 60% nationwide; that could prevent 79,000 illnesses a year. More than 48,000,000 Americans contract food poisoning every year; 120,000 people are hospitalized, and 3,000 die from foodborne illness.

Unfortunately, funding crises may affect these efforts. Most of the federal rules require a partnership with state and local health departments, which face funding cuts from state and local governments. And funding at the federal level is in question.

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