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Industry Taking Appropriate Steps To Ensure Beef is Safe from E. coli Contamination, Audit Finds

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

(American Meat Institute)

The industry is taking appropriate steps to help ensure that U.S. beef is safe from E. coli contamination, according to a recent audit by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of the Inspector General (OIG).

The auditors visited six beef slaughter plants directly responsible for processing about 17 percent of the U.S. beef supply.

"We found that industry was performing thousands of E. coli tests daily generally following the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) recommended procedures.  Overall, industry was taking  appropriate steps to help ensure that U.S. beef is safe from E. coli contamination, recognizing  that regardless of how stringently the industry tests for E. coli, there is always an inherent risk of  its presence in slaughter plants,” the report concluded.

The report also noted that the plants that were visited showed strong initiative in their  efforts to control contamination and to limit the ability of adulterated meat to make its way in to commerce. 

“Plants took preemptive action, often acting on presumptive positive test results and  in some instances, destroying whole days’ worth of production in the name of safety.  When  positive test results were found, plants were conducting investigations to determine the cause and  applied corrective actions to prevent future occurrence of E. coli contamination.  We also found  that these plants generally utilized nationally accredited laboratories for their sample analysis,” the report stated.

Auditors also examined whether these tests results are being used to improve food safety, and concluded that there are several areas for improvement. The auditors made the following recommendations:

To view the audit in its entirety, go to http://www.usda.gov/oig/webdocs/24601-0001-31.pdf.


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