WASHINGTON – The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) plans to "super-size" the agency's testing of ground beef this summer.

Brian Ronholm, Acting Undersecretary for Food Safety, wrote in a blog post that FSIS' pathogen testing program will include testing ground beef for Salmonella in addition to E. coli. Ronholm said FSIS needs more information about the prevalence of Salmonella in ground beef to better prevent foodborne illnesses. He added that Salmonella is especially difficult for food safety experts to address because it is prevalent in almost all food sources.

"Once FSIS has collected enough data about the prevalence of Salmonella in ground beef, we will create a new standard to encourage ground beef processors to strengthen their Salmonella controls, resulting in safer products and fewer foodborne illnesses," Ronholm wrote. "The data collection process will take some time, but it is critical that the new standard is supported by meaningful data. Of course, we will continue to analyze any positive samples for multi-drug resistance and specific serotypes to determine whether they are contributing to human illnesses."

The new testing protocol is part of FSIS' “Salmonella Action Plan”, a comprehensive strategy for reducing the number of Salmonella-related illnesses.