Three “Best Practices” documents under development to address further reining in E. coli O157:H7 were key topics as the beef checkoff-supported Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo) Executive Committee met in Denver Sept. 15. The committee also discussed development of a Food Safety Summit next spring.

The committee reviewed drafts of the Best Practices documents related to Retail, Foodservice and Non-Intact Products areas. When these drafts are completed, all sectors of the beef chain will have Best Practices guides in place. The group also reviewed a draft of the Best Practices for SRM (Specified Risk Material) Removal currently being developed. Each of the documents will be available on the checkoff’s BIFSCo Web site at www.bifsco.com

BIFSCo is coordinated on behalf of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board and state beef councils by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA). NCBA serves as one of the Beef Board’s contractors for checkoff-funded programs.

During their meeting, executive committee members discussed a Food Safety Summit slated for spring 2005 to address research and industry practices implemented since the industry’s E. coli Summit in January 2003.  The summit agenda will include development of an updated research plan.

Also featured at the summit will be educational sessions on topics such as antibiotics, hormones, animal identification and organic and grass-fed production techniques.  In addition, participants will review a standardized plan for sampling for E. coli O157:H7.  The committee assigned a working group to begin developing the protocol for this plan.

At its September meeting, the committee also received an update on the BSE enhanced surveillance program from Andrea Morgan, Ph.D., associate deputy administrator for regional operations, veterinary services, for the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).

 “The Beef Industry Food Safety Council is an important addition to the industry’s aggressive efforts to maximize food safety,” according to Mike Engler, a beef producer from Amarillo, Texas, and a member of BIFSCo.  “There is no sector of the beef production and marketing chain that is not affected by the challenge to keep beef as safe as it can be. By bringing together all the sectors, we can develop the most effective tactics and strategies for not only reducing E. coli O157:H7, but for battling other food safety issues we might face.”

NCBA