Food safety is of utmost importance. Consumers count on a safe and wholesome product when they purchase beef and all food. Proper cooking and handling of beef is an important component of food safety. Michigan State University Extension has a variety of resources available to educate consumers about food safety, including that hamburgers need to be cooked to 160 degrees Fahrenheit. But consumers expect a safe and wholesome product. Proactive steps at the farm and processing levels are critical to providing consumers with a product they can trust.
The Beef Industry Safety Summit, held annually since 2003, brings experts from all aspects of the industry together to advance food safety. Food safety is not looked at as a competitive advantage in the beef industry. The Safety Summit is the venue where leaders of food safety teams come together with beef producers, academics, and more to hear updates on food safety research and to share ideas for improving product safety.
At the 2015 Beef Industry Safety Summit, there were sessions on regulatory and research updates, including both pre- and post-harvest aspects. Information was even shared across industries as a general session focused on lessons learned about Salmonella by the poultry industry. Salmonella is a challenge for the beef industry because Salmonella has been found in the lymph nodes of cattle. Since the lymph system is internal, interventions that are currently applied to meat surfaces to reduce E. coli are not effective against Salmonella.
Antibiotic use and antibiotic resistance were also major topics on the program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have several initiatives to address each of these topics. Guidelines 209 and 213 are two such steps in the FDA’s initiative to address antimicrobial resistance. These guidelines will update product labels to exclude growth promotion as the labeled use of feed antimicrobials and will limit the use of antibiotics that are important to human health. Research is also being done to better understand antibiotic resistance issues related to animal agriculture.