OTTAWA, Ontario – New rules for meat-processing plants came into effect in July leading up to implementation of Canada's Safe Foods for Canadians Act. The Safe Food for Canadians Act was passed in November 2012 but has not yet come into force. The new rules will likely be combined under the act when it comes into force.

The new rules for federally registered meat processors state that:

• Processors that make beef trim, ground beef and beef patties must develop procedures outlining their response and review of trends in E. coli O157:H7 test results. Companies also must take immediate action and adjust their practices when trends indicate an unusual or higher number of positive test results.
• Ground-beef and beef-patty manufacturers must conduct additional testing and must take immediate action when test results indicate that bacteria are above acceptable levels.
• Mechanically tenderized beef intended for retail sale must be labeled as such and include cooking instructions.
• Plants must conduct follow-up testing if the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency identifies a positive test result in any sample of ground beef or ground beef patties.

For its part, the CFIA will:

• Increase sampling and testing frequency for E. coli O157:H7 in plants that make beef trim;
• Intensify testing frequency for E. coli O157:H7 from April to October; and
• Increase the overall number of samples taken annually, per plant.