ten years ago, I attended a NAMP meeting in Chicago and heard the
President of Jensen Meat Company, http://www.jensenmeat.com/
Bob Jensen make a statement that made a lasting impression on me. He said
that he was “one undercooked patty away from being driven out of
His company produces raw ground beef and he was speaking on USDA’s policy
which at the time declared E. coli O157:H7 an adulterant in
raw ground beef, but did not address contamination on beef carcasses or
trimmings. Bob said in his presentation that he was not going to wait for
USDA or the beef industry to solve the problem, but that he would take
the initiative himself.
I visited Jensen Meat Co. in Vista, CA and saw firsthand what Bob has
done over the past ten years to establish food safety systems for
controlling E. coli O157:H7 and to protect his customers and his
business from regulatory actions and recalls. Of course, he has also made
his products safer for consumers.
late 1990’s, Bob chaired a NAMP task force on E. coli that encouraged
USDA to approve anti-microbial interventions that could be applied
to beef trimmings. As soon as such an intervention became available,
Jensen was the first company in the US to implement it. The
intervention was Acidified Sodium Chlorite (ASC) which reduces E.
coli O157:H7 contamination on beef trimmings by over 99%.
Bob’s plant acted as the first test site for ASC and it required a great
deal of time and effort to perfect the application
process. Eventually, the process was implemented, approved by USDA
and it became an integral part of the food safety system at Jensen (and
many other ground beef manufacturers across the United States).
Today at Jensen Meat Co., trimmings that
pose a risk for E. coli O157:H7 are all treated
using ASC and microbiological testing is used to document the
effectiveness of the treatment. Jensen also requires suppliers of
trimmings to test for E. coli O157:H7 using n-60
testing protocols and they conduct their own microbiological testing to
verify supplier process control.
inspiring to see how a small family-owned company addressed what
seemed at the time to be an insolvable problem. There is still some risk
of E. coli O157:H7 contamination because Jensen does not
control the entire process. However, their risk is certainly much lower
because of Bob Jensen's food safety vision.
you heard about anyone doing something interesting in the fight against E.
coli? I would like to know more about it.