WASHINGTON – Retailers will be required to keep detailed records of all materials used in ground beef, according to a proposal from the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

If finalized, the proposed rule would require that retail outlets that mix cuts of beef from various sources 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. “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. The agency noted several occasions when FSIS urged retailers to maintain appropriate records to help FSIS conduct traceback or traceforward investigations during food-safety incidents. The agency added that investigations of foodborne illness outbreaks can be hindered when retailers mix product from various sources but fail to keep accurate records that would allow investigators to find the source of the tainted beef.