Big changes have taken place at the meat counter. It’s all come down to the fact that the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the USDA has amended regulations affecting all establishments that grind raw beef products for sale. These stores are now required to maintain detailed records in an effort to improve the traceability of the source of foodborne illness outbreaks involving ground beef.
Grocers and retail outlets will now be held responsible for the accurate upkeep of such records. Further, they can expect to also receive occasional audits checking into how well they have maintained their grind traceability records. In the event of an outbreak or audit, stores risk the ire of the USDA in the form of fines or lengthy investigations.
So what exactly does the USDA’s 9 CFR Part 320 entail?
Since it's enforcement on October 1st, 2016, it requires grind log records to be retained for one year. Records must include the following details:
- The name of the establishment(s) supplying material used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef product.
- All supplier lot numbers and production dates.
- The names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next.
- The date and time that each lot of raw ground beef product is produced.
- The date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.
Combatting Foodborne Illness
The reason behind these measures is simple: Foodborne illness is on the rise. Efforts by the CDC and other government agencies to quickly trace the source of outbreaks are being thwarted by the poor state of records within the industry. If these agencies have access to accurate digital records, they can trace the source and take fast action to prevent illness and fully contain any outbreak.
Unfortunately, there is still a long way to go before these government agencies can achieve that. In 2015 alone, the top 10 outbreaks reported by Food Safety News amounted to 4 deaths and 2,613 people sickened by foodborne illness.
The risk at the meat counter is particularly high. An investigation by Consumer Reports found that 82% of non-organic beef contained at least 2 types of bacteria. Although organic beef samples fared better, 58% of samples surveyed still contained bacteria.
With numbers such as that, it’s understandable why the new regulations have been devised. But stores, meat departments, and other outlets that sell ground beef products should be prepared. With the October 1st, 2016 deadline in the past, there is no time like the present.
The smart solution is to adopt digital technology to automate the process of keeping these records. This new breed of software takes the time and uncertainty out of grind management. For more information, contact TRUNO, the leader in digital cloud-based grind traceability solutions.