Survey of Pathogen Interventions and Best Practices Used by Beef Harvesters and Processors



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A survey was developed and sent out to each sector of the beef industry (slaughter, non-intact processing and grinding) by using the FSIS Meat, Poultry and Egg Product Inspection Directory. Survey questions were specific to processes and interventions being applied, and the use and familiarity with Industry Best Practices documents for beef processing. Returned completed surveys. A total of 469 beef processing operations responded and of survey respondents, 119 establishments were called and asked additional questions. Critical Control Points (CCPs) and testing for E. coli O157:H7 were common discussion point during phone calls. Plant visits were made to confirm the answers that were provided in the written survey. Plants that further processed beef were found to need to reassess their HACCP plan based on their response to the question, "Is E. coli O157:H7 a reasonably likely to occur food safety hazard?" E. coli O157:H7 is considered an adulterant in the products that they produced if they answered yes to this question. Based on survey responses, slaughter establishments were using available technologies to reduce or eliminate possible microbiological contamination. Further process operations, especially those plants that produced intact steaks and roasts, marinated/enhanced steaks and roasts, and plants that produced needle/blade tenderized steaks and roasts, used documentation such as supplier purchasing specifications instead of using processes to control, reduce, or eliminated microbiological food safety hazards. Industry Best Practices were being utilized most frequently by slaughter and ground beef operations. Plants that further process beef still need to implement the use of the Industry Best Practices specific to them. Plants used testing for E. coli O157:H7 throughout the beef industry regardless of plant size or type.