USDA to test bench trim for E. coli

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By Rita Jane Gabbett on 7/31/2009


Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Friday that USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service is issuing guidance for inspectors to begin conducting routine sampling of bench trim for E. coli O157:H7.

FSIS will also be issuing streamlined, consolidated instructions to its personnel for inspection, sampling and other actions to reduce E. coli O157:H7 in beef, Vilsack said in a news release.

"FSIS has not routinely tested bench trim, and today's announcement builds on previous measures FSIS has taken to ensure meat is safe," the news release said.

Further processors

"The expansion is from testing beef manufacturing trimmings, which are produced at slaughter establishments, to also sampling bench trim, which is produced at further processing establishments," Ann Wells, director of scientific and regulatory affairs for the North American Meat Processors Association, told Meatingplace.

She explained that the trimmings that have been subject to sampling in the past have been the first trimmings to come off a carcass in the production of boxed beef. "Bench trim" refers to secondary trimmings that are produced in the conversion of boxed beef to steaks, roasts and other products.

NAMP Executive Director Phil Kimball told Meatingplace that FSIS Deputy Assistant Administrator Dan Engeljohn will discuss the impact of this announcement on further processors in detail at an E. coli conference, Aug. 18 - 19, in Chicago. (See Conference to focus on E. coli strategies for beef further processors on Meatingplace, June 4, 2009.)


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