The proposal is designed to ensure that retailers can trace sources of ground meats. If finalised, it will require retail outlets to keep clear records which identify the source, supplier, and names of all materials used in the preparation of raw ground beef products, which retail outlets frequently make by mixing cuts of beef from various sources.
Brian Ronholm, deputy under secretary for food safety at the USDA, said: "The improved traceback capabilities that would result from this proposal will prevent foodborne illness by allowing FSIS to conduct recalls of potentially contaminated raw ground products in a timelier manner.
"By requiring retail outlets to maintain improved records on sources for ground products, the proposal will enable FSIS to quickly identify likely sources of contaminated product linked to an outbreak."
According to the FSIS, traceback investigations can be hindered when outlets don’t keep clear records that would enable investigators to easily determine which supplier produced the unsafe product.
The proposal forms part of the FSIS’s on-going work to target its food safety prevention tools, and follows its Salmonella Action Plan launched in December last year.
Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, vice president of food safety programs, at Food Marketing Institute (FMI), told GlobalMeatNews:
"We’ve had positive conversations since 2008 with FSIS on how retailers can maintain full grinding logs that are both workable for store management and for the good of public health. The proposed ruling is positive reinforcement that there continue to be opportunities for retailers to reassess their current record keeping protocols and protect public health.
"The proposed rule asserts that each store will maintain grinding logs that denote a description of the source materials, including production and sell-by dates; whether store-generated trim was used; and the names and establishment numbers of the suppliers who sourced materials. The proposed rule also includes establishments that produced the store-generated trim."
According to FMI’s 2014 US Grocery Shopper Trends Report, 91% of shoppers trust grocery stores to offer safe products for purchase.