May 21, 2024

USDA Announces New Traceback for Suspect Ground Beef

The USDA announced new traceback procedures that will let it trace contaminated ground beef or bench trim back to the source more quickly. Immediate investigations will be conducted at facilities where the product tests positive for E. coli O157:H7 during initial testing. The suppliers that provide the source materials for those products will also be investigated immediately.

Beef CarcassGovernment inspectors will be sent in as soon as USDA-FSIS gets a “presumptive positive result” and the facility in question provides information about their supplier. Before this new procedure, FSIS would investigate only after the presumptive positive test was confirmed, which can take up to 2 days. The supplier inspections would have taken place 30 days later.

The procedure will “enable FSIS to better determine whether the establishments that produced the source materials for contaminated product have produced other product that may not be microbiologically independent from the contaminated product.” In other words, it will help prevent contaminated beef being shipped from a supplier to more than one facility.

The government will review slaughter test results to determine if the establishment experienced a high event period (HEP). FSIS will use HEP criteria to determine whether a breakdown of control at a slaughter establishment led to cross-contamination between multiple lots. This would create conditions that may affect intact lots of beef in addition to trimmings and could lead to more contaminated product.

In 2011, FSIS declared six shiga toxin-producing E. coli bacteria (STEC) adulterants in raw non-intact beef product or raw intact beef product intended for use in raw non-intact beef product (ground beef). FSIS states that “FSIS has updated the policies, procedures, and guidance to reflect the changes that apply to E. coli O157:H7 and would appropriately apply to non-O157 STEC.”

These new procedures will be implemented on October 14, 2014, 60 days after the program is published in the Federal Register. More recalls will probably occur once the new procedures are the law.


  1. Well, well! Check it out! Somebody is being proactive! Bravo!

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