WASHINGTON, DC – The AMI Foundation has unveiled a new Microbiological Benchmarking Program, which will help plants compare their microbiological profiles against other industry companies.

Under the program, each participating plant will submit a randomly selected sample of product each week using an anonymous
identification number. Each sample will be tested for total aerobic plate count, generic E. coli plate count and incidence of Salmonella. (Other organisms like Campylobacter and Listeria may be added later based on agreement among participating plants).

Samples will be collected and analyzed according to USDA methods. Chilled carcasses will be sampled one day after slaughter. Trimmings will be sampled at the time of fabrication or when received at the grinding operation. Ground product will be sampled at the time of production.

Product categories that will be sampled under the program include: steer/heifer beef carcasses; cow/bull beef carcasses; barrow/gilt carcasses; sow/boar carcasses; 50 percent beef trimmings; 90 percent beef trimmings; 72 percent pork trimmings; ground beef and ground pork.

Participating plants will receive individual sample results on an ongoing basis. A quarterly report will be provided that shows the results of each sample analyzed in the product categories in which the plant is participating. Results will be shown by plant with mean and standard deviation calculated for each. A yearly summary also will be provided.

"This program will be extremely valuable to companies that wish to gauge the success of their microbiological control programs," said AMI Foundation President Jim Hodges. "The program will also highlight progress the industry is making to improve the quality and safety of meat products."

The cost of the program is $32 per weekly sample. Sampling and shipping supplies are extra. Plants interested in the program should contact Jim Hodges, 703-841-2400 or jhodges@meatami.org. More information is available on the AMI Foundation Web site at www.meatami.org.

The AMI Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to research, education and information that benefit the meat and poultry industry. Originally created in 1944, the AMI Foundation today solicits grants from government, industry and other organizations to fund a broad range of food safety, worker safety, nutrition and consumer information projects.

American Meat Institute

www.meatami.org