USDA finalizes record-keeping rule for ground beef

USDA finalizes record-keeping rule for ground beef

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) finalized a new rule Monday that will require all producers of raw ground beef to keep records of where the meat has come from.

The rule aims to help the FSIS improve its ability to determine the source of foodborne illnesses linked to ground beef and to stop the outbreak from spreading.

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The agency said outbreak investigations are hindered when retail stores produce ground beef by mixing product from various sources and fail to keep clear records that would allow investigators to determine which supplier produced the unsafe product.

“This is a common-sense step that can prevent foodborne illness and increase consumer confidence when they purchase ground beef,” Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety Al Almanza said about the rule in a news release. “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 rule, all establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef products will be required to keep record of 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.

The record keeping requirements also apply to raw beef products that are ground at an individual customer’s request when new source materials are used.

The rule will take effect 180 days after its published in the Federal Register.