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USDA Finalizes Ground Beef Standards for School Lunch and Nutrition Programs

Friday, July 2, 2010

(American Meat Institute)

USDA has finalized new standards for ground beef purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for Federal food and nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch Program.  The new requirements will apply to AMS ground beef contracts awarded on or after July 1, 2010.  

In addition to continuing a zero tolerance for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, the new AMS standards: (1) tighten microbiological testing protocols; (2) tighten the microbiological upper specification and critical limits; (3) increase microbiological sampling frequency for finished products to every 15 minutes; and, (4) institute additional rejection criteria for source trimmings used to manufacture AMS purchased ground beef.  AMS will also consider any vendor classified by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)  as having a long term poor safety record as an ineligible vendor until a complete cause-and-effect analysis is completed.

The new purchasing requirements can be found in their entirety at: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/getfile?dDocName=STELPRDC5085021.

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