Sampling and testing for E. coli O157:H7 is being increased during August and September at mid-sized to large ground beef processing plants, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced Monday.
In a notice for inspection program personnel, FSIS said it had examined sample results for 2011 and noticed a drop in the number of samples that it has collected and analyzed.
To meet agency sampling goals for the year, FSIS opted to increase the number of samples collected from ground beef establishments with production volumes of at least 50,000 pounds per day for the months of August and September 2011.
In past assessments, FSIS has found that the largest establishments represent the greatest risk for E. coli O157:H7 contamination on a per serving basis.
To achieve its sampling goals, FSIS will temporarily adjust its testing schedule to:
— Up to six times within a 30-day window for establishments with ground beef production volumes greater than 250,000 pounds per day.
— Up to four times within a 30-day window for establishments with ground beef production volumes of 50,000 to 250,000 pounds per day.
— No changes for establishments with ground beef production volumes of less than 50,000 pounds per day.
Inspectors at ground beef establishments with production volumes greater than 50,000 pounds per day were instructed to discuss the changes with the management at their establishments at their next weekly meeting.
Although the additional samples are to be collected during the month, it is possible two samples can be collected in a single day.
Raw ground beef samples are tested by the Office of Public Health Science and the Data Analysis and Integration Group. The DAIG produces weekly, quarterly, and annual reports.