WASHINGTON – On Nov. 9, the US Department of Agriculture will hold a joint public meeting to explore innovative ways to control pathogens in beef in the pre-harvest setting. The Food Safety and Inspection Service, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the Agricultural Research Service will convene to discuss how pre-harvest pathogen control strategies for animals presented for slaughter can reduce the likelihood that beef could become contaminated with Shiga toxin-producingE. coli,Salmonellaand other pathogens.

Presentations on the latest research will be featured, followed by workshop discussions. USDA said the agency will work toward developing and promoting pre-harvest best practices with producers and stakeholders.

"Producers, processors and regulators have made great strides in improving our food safety system,” said Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety at USDA. “However, despite this progress, too many people fall victim to foodborne illness. The key to protecting our food supply is taking a comprehensive approach that focuses on prevention at every stage in the food production system. This collaborative and cooperative effort between producers, processors, consumers and regulators will help achieve the goal of a safer food supply."

"Pre-harvest research to improve food safety is a priority in USDA's intramural and extramural research programs," said Dr. Catherine Woteki, Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics at USDA. "This public meeting will help to focus our research on development, persistence and transmission of foodborne pathogens among food animals and the environment, potential intervention, control and prevention strategies that will eliminate or reduce foodborne contaminants."

The public meeting will be held on Nov. 9 from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at the USDA Center at Riverside, Md. on 4700 River Road, 1st floor — Oklahoma City Memorial Conference Center, Riverdale, Md. 20737. FSIS will welcome comments until Jan. 3, 2012, on this meeting.

Comments may be submitted by: the federal eRulemaking Portal www.regulations.gov/ or mail to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS Docket Room, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Patriot's Plaza 3, Mailstop 3782, Room 163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

FSIS will finalize an agenda on or before the meeting and post it on theFSIS website.