The U.S. Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) has announced it will make a number of changes to its ground beef purchase programme, based on received recommendations from the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) and the Agricultural Research Service (ARS).
The recommendations that AMS will implement for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year are as follows:
- AMS will now begin to formally take into account the food safety record of vendors' commercial sales. Prospective or current AMS vendors that demonstrate a long-term poor food safety record in the commercial market will become ineligible to supply ground beef to the School Lunch Program until they demonstrate to AMS that the conditions that resulted in their food safety lapses on the commercial market will not impact the safety of products they are providing into Federal food and nutrition assistance programs.
- AMS will tighten its microbiological testing protocols. AMS will align or exceed the FSIS E. coli O157:H7 N-60 testing protocols for boneless beef with FSIS protocols that should be issued in the summer of 2010.
- AMS will tighten its microbiological criteria for USDA purchased ground beef. AMS will tighten its microbiological upper specification limits and critical limits. Plants will need to maintain a process that consistently beats the upper specification limits and no product will be accepted from any vendor that exceeds the critical limits.
- AMS will increase its microbiological sampling frequency. Microbiological sampling frequencies will increase to every 15 minutes of production.
- AMS will institute additional rejection criteria for source trimmings used to manufacture USDA purchased ground beef. AMS will now reject individual loads of beef trimmings that exceed AMS’s new critical limits for indicator organisms.
Source: AMI – American Meat Institute