USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service will now immediately begin investigating ground beef sellers and their suppliers when product tests positive for E. coli during initial testing.
Previously, FSIS waited to investigate the grinding facility until after a presumptive positive test result was confirmed, which could take up to two days. Investigations of suppliers would not take place until 30 days later.
Once FSIS starts an investigation, the agency will review company records to figure out if there was a failure in the food safety system. It will also work to remove from commerce any contaminated product.
Dozens more recalls may occur once these protocols are in place, FSIS said.
“A critical component of preventing foodborne illness is quickly identifying sources of contamination and removing unsafe products from store shelves,” Brian Ronholm, deputy under secretary for food safety, said in a press release. “The expedited traceback procedures being announced today will allow FSIS to take action more quickly, which will make a significant difference in food safety investigations and in preventing foodborne illnesses.”
FSIS also recently proposed a rule that would require strict records from companies that produce ground beef in order to improve traceability.
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