USDA seeks input on pre-harvest beef safety

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Noting that “pre-harvest food safety interventions can prevent foodborne illness by helping to reduce risk in the farm-to-table continuum,” the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service seeks to identify best management practices for beef producers. In cooperation with APHIS and ARS, the agency has announced a public “pre-harvest food safety for cattle” meeting on Wednesday, November 9 in Riverdale, Maryland.

Through this process, FSIS, will seek input on pre-harvest pathogen control strategies designed to reduce the likelihood that beef will be contaminated with pathogens of public health concern, such as Shiga toxin- producing E. coli and Salmonella, during the slaughter process.

In the meeting notice, FSIS notes it began promoting pre-harvest beef safety in 2008, and in 2010 published cattle pre-harvest guidelines to inform beef slaughter establishments of interventions that can be applied before slaughter, such as on-site farm management controls, to help reduce E. coli O157:H7 shedding in cattle.

FSIS currently recommends that slaughter establishments procure their cattle from beef producers that implement one or more documented pre-harvest management practices to reduce fecal shedding of enteric pathogens. The agency acknowledges that research on pre-harvest interventions is ongoing and effective methods are yet to be discovered. Current research suggests certain probiotics and vaccines have the potential to be effective in reducing fecal shedding in cattle.

Stated goals for the meeting on pre-harvest food safety for cattle are:

  1. Food safety improvement through identification and development of effective pre-harvest practices.
  2. Creating an increased focus on pre-harvest food safety and the identification and development of incentives for producers and processors to adopt effective pre-harvest practices.
  3. Increased producer engagement to emphasize their importance in the overall food safety system.
  4. Finding effective solutions through discrete projects, including demonstration projects of new technologies and implementation of best practices.

The agency hopes the meeting will result in identification of effective and practical pre-harvest practices, identification of incentives for producers and processors to adopt such measures and establishment of an ongoing dialogue regarding pre-harvest food safety.

Ultimately, FSIS, APHIS, and ARS plan to apply the information toward development of a “best practice” guidance document. The draft guidance document would be made available for comment-and ultimately for use by all stakeholders.

Quoted in Food Safety News, USDA Under Secretary of Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen reassures producers regarding the agency’s role in pre-harvest management. "We are not looking to go on the farm, we are not looking to regulate producers at FSIS, but everything that happens on the farm impacts what we do, it impacts the amount of risk that has to be handled throughout the system."

For more information on the meeting and how to register, view the full notice from FSIS.

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Texas  |  October, 12, 2011 at 11:58 AM

On-Site Farm Management is not on the farm? Yeah, right.

Texas  |  October, 12, 2011 at 12:12 PM

Next to come will be comprehensive humane treatment guidelines that dictate the construction of the facility just as they went into effect in slaughterhouses complete with criminal penalties and prosecutions.

Texas  |  October, 12, 2011 at 02:10 PM

When you read their rule concerning fasting during transport notice the contortion so as not to contradict humane animal transport guidelines already in place. They mention unspecified 'some studies' to show that fasting animals 'shed' less E Coli. Yeah, right. I went through a 72 hour fasting procedure before a colonoscopy that lasted longer than animal transport and there is nothing to shed. BTW, besides in the horror flicks, what exactly does the term stakeholder include? Does it include any out-of-state non-profit activist groups?

NE  |  October, 12, 2011 at 06:31 PM

Don't you just love the way they are setting it up so that the blame will fall on the producer instead of the packer? I feel like it is all to clear the slaughter house of blame when there is an E-coli outbreak. What about cleanliness there?

Texas  |  October, 14, 2011 at 05:33 PM

The rules say you will have to use or don't use antibiotics the way they say, chlorinate the cow water, give them a disinfecting bath before going on the truck to the slaughterhouse, make sure they are fed and watered all the time which includes just prior to going on to the truck so they crap and get it all over themselves before they get there. Eventually, they will have it so that if your ranch facility does not conform to all these rules, it will be shut down. The worst will come next. Animal cruelty legislation made an exception for livestock practices. These rules will become the established livestock practice for the purposes of state-level animal cruelty prosecutions. That is what ranchers are being set up for. Dare to own an animal = go to jail. We are seeing the risks of ownership being raised in the dog and cat breeder laws passed in Texas. They use the Health & Safety Code Chapter 821 to seize animals in a one party proceeding, and if in a rural county then usually in front of a judge who never went to law school. The threat of a criminal cruelty case will cause your lawyer to tell you to let the animals go, and try to survive the criminal case. Pretty slick, huh?

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