WASHINGTON — The Agricultural Marketing Service (A.M.S.) plans make changes to its ground beef purchase program based on recommendations from the Food Safety Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.) and the Agricultural Research Service (A.R.S.), according to the American Meat Institute.

Recommendations A.M.S. will make for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year are:

? A.M.S. will begin to formally take into account the food-safety record of vendors' commercial sales. Prospective or current A.M.S. vendors demonstrating a long-term poor food-safety record in the commercial market will become ineligible to supply ground beef to the School Lunch Program until they demonstrate to A.M.S. the conditions resulting in their food-safety lapses on the commercial market will not impact the safety of products they are providing into federal food and nutrition assistance programs.

? A.M.S. will tighten its microbiological testing protocols. A.M.S. will align or exceed the F.S.I.S. E. coli O157:H7 N-60 testing protocols for boneless beef with F.S.I.S. protocols that should be issued in the summer of 2010.

? A.M.S. will tighten its microbiological criteria for U.S.D.A.-purchased ground beef. A.M.S. will tighten its microbiological upper specification limits and critical limits. Plants will need to maintain a process that consistently beats the upper specification limits and no product will be accepted from any vendor that exceeds the critical limits.

? A.M.S. will increase its microbiological sampling frequency. Microbiological sampling frequencies will increase to every 15 minutes of production.

? A.M.S. will institute additional rejection criteria for source trimmings used to manufacture U.S.D.A.- purchased ground beef. A.M.S. will now reject individual loads of beef trimmings that exceed A.M.S.’s new critical limits for indicator organisms.

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