The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) yesterday issued "Notice 28-14 - Analysis for Salmonella of All Beef Products Sampled for Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia Coli (STEC)." To be implemented starting June 29, the notice provides instructions for inspection personnel regarding sampling and analysis of raw ground beef for Salmonella and E. coli.

The document leads with the following "key points":

  • New Salmonella verification sets (HC01) in raw ground beef products will be discontinued with the exception of sets scheduled at establishments that exceeded the standard in the most recently completed sample set (i.e., Category 3). FSIS also will also discontinue collecting MT43S samples in very low volume grinding establishments. FSIS analyzed MT43S samples for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella.
  • Raw beef samples, including import and retail samples, collected for STEC analysis will also be analyzed for Salmonella.
  • No changes are being made to the raw beef sampling collection methods, sampling eligibilities, or follow-up procedures for samples that test positive for the adulterant STEC.

The new approach, which adds Salmonella testing to the E. coli testing that was already being done in beef processing plants, was first announced May 16 in a blog post by Brian Ronholm, USDA's acting under secretary for food safety. FSIS Notice 28-14 states that the new program "will allow FSIS to gather baseline data to determine the prevalence of Salmonella in ground beef and trim and to gather data necessary to propose new performance standards for ground beef."

David Goldman, assistant administrator in the Office of Public Health Science at FSIS, yesterday told attendees of the American Meat Science Association’s Reciprocal Meat Conference that the portion size for Salmonella testing in ground beef will increased to 325 grams from 25 grams. With that increase, he said, “we do expect that we’ll find more Salmonella than in the past using that smaller portion size,” according to an industry source.