Our number one goal as the beef industry is to provide a safe beef products. This is something you hear us say often, but not only do we say this, we back it up through a continuous commitment to improve and innovate within the industry. That was the goal behind the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo) when it was established in 1997. This week BIFSCo’s membership engaged in the annual Beef Industry Safety Summit in Dallas, Texas. The Safety Summit is an annual event, funded in part by the Beef Checkoff, attended by the research community and industry leaders to share the latest science-based information and discuss the latest industry challenges and how they can be addressed.

As an organization, BIFSCo facilitates input from producers, packers, processors, distributors, restaurateurs and food retails to build a dialog around beef safety. This format allows the membership to build each year on safety improvements from the past. The best practices developed by BIFSCo’s membership serve as a roadmap for the decision-making process within each segment of our industry.

Research to better understand foodborne pathogens and identify new ways of controlling them has always been a top priority for the cattle industry. Since 1993, cattlemen and women have invested over $30 million in safety research programs. The industry as a whole invests more than $550 million annually in beef safety research and technology implementation. This is only part of the equation in addressing beef safety. Government oversight plays a role as well in overseeing federally-inspected establishments. The consumer always plays an important role in the safety of their food by following proper food handling, cooking and storage steps.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, human illness from E. coli from all foods, including beef, is on the decline. In 2010, the illness rate dropped to less than one case in 100,000 people. This met the Healthy People 2010 goal. The Healthy People 2020 goal, calls once again for reducing the number of E. coli illnesses and the beef industry is committed to helping meet that goal.

It is critical that we continue the conversation with every segment of the beef industry. That is why NCBA is a member of BIFSCo and attends important industry meetings like the Safety Summit to hear the latest scientific discussions and identify opportunities where we can continually improve beef safety for our consumers. Everyone plays an important role in beef safety from farm to fork.

Source: Kristina Butts, Executive Director of Legislative Affairs, NCBA