Industry seeks extension on meat-grinding rule

by Meat&Poultry Staff
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Under a proposed rule, retailers that grind meat from different sources would be required to keep detailed records.

WASHINGTON – The American Meat Institute, along with the North American Meat Association and the National Grocers Association sent a letter to the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service asking for more time to provide input on the agency's proposed rule on traceback protocols for ground beef.

“The Proposed Rule would impose new requirements on retailers and official establishments and in many instances those new requirements are particularly burdensome,” the letter states. “Even a cursory review of the agency’s economic analysis reveals that FSIS has significantly underestimated the costs the proposed rule would impose.”

Under the proposed rule, retailers that mix cuts of beef from various sources would be required to keep detailed records identifying the source, supplier and names of all materials used in the preparation of raw ground-beef products.

“The improved traceback capabilities that would result from this proposal will prevent foodborne illness by allowing FSIS to conduct recalls of potentially contaminated raw ground products in a timelier manner,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm in July. “By requiring retail outlets to maintain improved records on sources for ground products, the proposal will enable FSIS to quickly identify likely sources of contaminated product linked to an outbreak.”

FSIS cited ineffective recordkeeping by retailers that grind raw beef as the impetus behind the proposed rule.

But the industry groups argue that, if implemented, the rule would impose additional investments in recordkeeping systems, technology or both; additional training of employees and major operational changes in meat departments. The groups said the 60-day comment period was not enough time for industry stakeholders to provide meaningful input. The comment period is set to expire on Sept. 22.

“Affected companies need more time to assess the impact of the Proposed Rule and provide the Agency with comprehensive comments,” the groups said in the letter. “Providing an additional 60 days will result in a more informed and better rulemaking and in the process likely enhance public health.”

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By QueenB 8/25/2014 7:51:51 AM
Slaughterhouses and wholesale processors have been keeping records, especially since HACCP became mandatory in the late 90's. Whatever happened to tracing the food from farm to table? It stops at the processors and it needs to be extended to those who further process those meats in grocery stores and restaurants and institutions.

By Tony Orlando 8/22/2014 1:51:43 PM
This is close to the final step of total government control on who sells what, and it is going to end horribly. I have been doing this for 50 years, without any issues, and now we are handcuffed by the morons in DC, who know absolutely nothing about running a business. I can not believe we will allow this to go thru, and if it does, many great Independent stores will be forced to close, as the costs to do this are overwhelming. This is beyond insane, and the Big Box stores, who produce NOTHING will be the winners, as we will be forced to comply, and possibly get out of the business. Grinds are 25% of our fresh beef business, and if we can not use our trim to create our own fresh grinds, without logging a billion useless bits of information to keep the Feds from punishing us, you will see a wave of stores hanging it up. What profits we have left will be eaten away in paperwork, and mandates. What a scam.

By T and H Prime Meats and Sausage San Marcos CA, 8/22/2014 9:26:25 AM
For a small Retail Shop like T and H ,I calculated the Time, It would be equel Paperwork as actuel Work.There has to be a better Way.basically a clean sanitary Shop!.Jacob at TandH.

By glenn 8/22/2014 8:40:10 AM
Retailers should be accountable for cross contamination, after all is food safety not the most important issue here, record keeping for traceability, More importantly the neglect of cross contamination of species