Navigation Links
Stricter testing for federal ground beef program may not lead to safer meat
Date:12/9/2010

WASHINGTON A new National Research Council report finds no scientific basis that more stringent testing of meat purchased through the government's ground beef purchase program and distributed to various federal food and nutrition programs -- including the National School Lunch Program -- would lead to safer meat.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) buys ground beef from suppliers who must meet mandatory process, quality, traceback, and handling controls as well as comply with strict limitations on the amounts of bacteria in the meat, such as E. coli and salmonella. AMS then distributes the ground beef to federal programs, including food banks, emergency feeding programs, Indian reservations, and disaster relief agencies. In its assessment of AMS's ground beef purchase program, the committee that wrote the report said validated cooking processes provide greater assurance of ground beef's safety than would additional testing for pathogens. Testing alone cannot guarantee the complete absence of pathogens because of statistical implications associated with how beef is sampled during testing.

The committee's analysis of the number of illnesses since 1998 linked with AMS ground beef provided to schools suggests that outbreaks were rare events before AMS requirements became more stringent in February, implying that controls already in place were appropriate for protecting public health. For instance, no recorded outbreaks of E. coli or salmonella associated with AMS ground beef have occurred in more than a decade. Prevention of future outbreaks will depend on eliminating contamination during production and ensuring meat is properly handled, stored, and cooked before it is served, the committee emphasized.

As part of its review, the committee also attempted to compare the AMS specifications with those of large industry purchasers of ground beef. Among purchasers, the committee found considerable differences in testing and safety standards and suspected that the intended use of the ground beef could account for the variations. For example, all raw AMS ground beef is distributed in frozen form, but distributors of fresh meat products may require different standards designed to improve shelf life. While AMS safety requirements appear comparable to or more demanding than those of commercial companies on the surface, the lack of information detailing the science used for corporate specifications prevented the committee from making direct comparisons.

Additional specifications under the AMS program call for testing food samples and surfaces at the suppliers to look for the presence of "indicator" microorganisms that could denote unsanitary conditions, improper hygiene and processing techniques, post-processing contamination, and storage-temperature abuse. Although a reduction in the number of indicator organisms implies a reduction in the amount of pathogens, the presence of an indicator does not guarantee that a pathogen is also present, the committee said. For an indicator to be an effective predictor of a pathogen's presence, a statistical association needs to be established. Therefore, the committee recommended that AMS assess the usefulness of its microbiological data as a scientific basis for testing for indicators.

"The report encourages AMS to strengthen its established specifications and requirements for ground beef by utilizing a transparent and clearly defined science-based process," said Gary Acuff, chair of the committee and professor and director of the Center for Food Safety at Texas A&M University, College Station.

In addition, the report says that some of the requirements were founded on expert opinion and industry practices where the scientific basis was unclear. The committee recommended that AMS base their requirements on standards supported by the International Commission on Microbiological Safety of Foods, the Codex Alimentarius Commission, and the Research Council report An Evaluation of the Role of Microbiological Criteria for Foods and Food Ingredients. It also suggested that AMS analyze data from the suppliers' bacterial testing to evaluate the safety requirements over time and use statistical methods to set testing sample and lot sizes. Overall, AMS should develop a systematic, transparent, and auditable system for modifying, reviewing, updating, and justifying purchasing specifications.

The committee noted that maintaining people's confidence in the safety, quality, and nutritional value of the products AMS purchases is especially important because of the nature of the program and the clientele it serves. Though AMS may find it appropriate to adopt and implement conservative standards and requirements that both protect public health and provide the best quality product, it needs to consider the potential unintended consequences of increased testing and product requirements, the committee said. Additional testing would likely increase costs to producers, which could impact the purchase price of ground beef available through the program. Under such circumstances, schools might decide to buy their ground beef on the open market at a lower cost.


'/>"/>

Contact: Jennifer Walsh
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. FDA Advisers Urge Stricter Regulation of Tanning Beds
2. Stricter Rules Can Steer Kids Away From TV
3. New testing method hints at garlics cancer-fighting potential
4. Twenty-Five Years of HIV Blood Testing Helped to Positively Transform Global Health Crisis
5. Christine P. Carrington, President of NurseTesting Creative Solutions, Inducted into Cambridge Who's Who
6. New Allergy Testing Available for Patients Allergic to Penicillin: Determining the Presence of Penicillin Allergy is Essential to Patient Care
7. Breast Cancer Patients Often Confused by Genomic Testing
8. Study Results Validate Shape-HF as Simplified, Portable Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing System
9. San Francisco AIDS Foundation Introduces HIV Testing to Sixth Street
10. Phybridge Inc. Joins the Cisco Developer Network and Completes Cisco Interoperability Verification Testing
11. UAB testing software program to improve safety among older drivers
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:4/27/2017)... ... April 27, 2017 , ... Plastic Surgery Associates is excited to announce that ... at the upcoming Aesthetic Meeting. Held in San Diego, at the San Diego Convention ... will lend their expertise to the Premier Global Hot Topics session, speaking on genital ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... describes the adoption of e-prescribing as measured in Part D Medicare data. The ... prescriptions to pharmacies, either using e-prescribing, faxes or paper. The PaPR (pronounced ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... ... , ... Miami native and local periodontist Dr. John Paul Gallardo ... back in 1991 that this journey would have taken me into so many learning ... Dr. Gallardo has pioneered implant dentistry innovation, evolving into an internationally recognized leader in ...
(Date:4/26/2017)... , ... April 26, 2017 , ... ... performance, is proud to announce that it has received 510(k) clearance from the ... MyoCycle Home and the MyoCycle Pro. , Both devices are stationary cycling systems ...
(Date:4/25/2017)... ... April 25, 2017 , ... A stressful work environment can hurt the ... overall productivity and performance in the workplace. The goal of Clearview Resolution Services has ... weeks of April, Clearview Resolution Services will be shutting down the office early on ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:4/21/2017)... Halo Labs announces the launch of a novel low ... Horizon at PEGS 2017 in Boston ... visible particulate matter in biopharmaceutical samples to enable for ... candidate selection and pre-formulation. Halo Labs is ... Elion Labs for system validation. "We are very ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... April 20, 2017 Research and ... Biosimilar Pipeline and Market Prospects: Addressing Production Complexities Through ... their offering. ... "Global Biosimilar Pipeline and Market Prospects: Overcoming Production ... an in-depth assessment of the current trends in the ...
(Date:4/20/2017)... ZappRx, Inc ., a digital health company focused on modernizing ... closed $25 million in Series B funding led by Qiming ... Seattle that is part of a broader ... round included participation from SR One , who led ... (formerly Google Ventures). As part of the financing, Mark ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: