Beginning June 20, official establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef for sale in commerce will be required to maintain specific information about their grinding activities. This rule is necessary to improve FSIS’s ability to accurately trace the source of foodborne illness outbreaks involving ground beef and to identify the source materials that need to be recalled.
The recordkeeping requirements in this final rule will greatly assist FSIS in doing so. This final rule requires establishments and retail facilities that grind raw beef to keep the following records: The establishment numbers of the establishments supplying the materials used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef; 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 each lot of raw ground beef is produced; and the date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.
These requirements also apply when official establishments and retail stores grind new source materials at an individual customer’s request. These requirements are a change from the original proposed rule in response to industry comments. Plants are not required to keep the weight of each component used in a lot of ground beef and they are not required to provide contact information for each establishment that supplied them with product being used in their ground beef.
One of the areas that FSIS will be stressing is the area of sanitation. FSIS feels that there should be a cleanup of equipment and contact surfaces between each lot of ground product to ensure that there is no cross contamination. It will probably be best to make each day’s production a lot number, unless you are grinding a large amount of product, it will be difficult to do a cleanup in a small shop between multiple lots in a day.
There has been a lot of discussion about whether FSIS will actually check retail stores to see if they are complying with the rule or not. My thought is, and it is only my thought, that FSIS does not have the manpower to be able to do this, but that does not relieve retail stores from the responsibility of doing it. There is a possibility that a retail store could get a visit from someone in FSIS, state inspection, or even a compliance officer. Regardless of whether you have someone checking on this or not, you need to make sure that you are doing it. If by chance someone gets some contaminated beef and they think you are a source for it, then someone will come to look at your records. If you do not have records, you open yourself up to a larger recall and additional problems. The other way that you might get a visit is if one of your suppliers has a problem with a lot number they supplied you with, you would get a visit to see what you had done with the product you were supplied with.
A sample log provided by FSIS is available on AAMP’s website. This shows the information they are looking for. AAMP is putting together a log for members to use that will be ready before the rule take effect and will be found on the members-only side of the website. We will notify members when the log is available.