Greeley, CO-based JBS USA Beef says it saw a two-thirds reduction in microbial counts for E. coli O157:H7 in its eight domestic processing plants during the first half of 2011 when compared with the year earlier.  

Cattle Buyers Weekly in Petaluma, CA reports that JBS, the American subsidiary of Brazil’s JBS S.A., credits a new remote video auditing system for the improvement. JBS management uses the video system to watch kill-floor employees and identify those who need further training in food safety procedures.

John Ruby, who heads JBS technical services, says the video system is the best slaughterhouse tool for reducing potential contamination from hide to carcass because of its use in positively affecting employee behavior.

To put its performance into perspective, Ruby said it took 10 years for the entire industry to achieve that last two-thirds reduction in microbial counts for E. coli.

Called SAFE, the JBS food safety program originally included evaluation of dressing procedures, monitoring food safety interventions and microbiological counts, and auditing carcass spacing in coolers. SAFE includes video at JBS beef plants in the U.S. to both audit and enhance the food safety program.

JBS S.A., the world largest meat producer, is responsible for 22 percent of the U.S. beef supply.  It is led by Don Jackson, who came over from Pilgrim’s Pride when it was purchased out of bankruptcy by JBS.