WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture will require producers to hold shipments of non-intact raw beef and all ready-to-eat products containing meat and poultry until they pass USDA testing for foodborne adulterants. The policy will be enforced beginning in 60 days, according to USDA.

“This new policy will reduce foodborne illnesses and the number of recalls by preventing contaminated products from reaching consumers,” USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said. “Many producers hold products until test results come back. We're encouraging others in the industry to make this a routine part of operations.”

The new policy requires establishments and importers of record to maintain control of products tested for adulterants by the Food Safety and Inspection Service and not allow the products to enter commerce until negative test results are received. FSIS expect most negative test results will be determined within two days. The policy applies to non-intact raw beef products or intact raw beef products intended for non-intact use and that are tested by FSIS for Shiga-toxin producing E. coli. Also, the policy applies to any ready-to-eat products tested by FSIS for pathogens.

If this new requirement had been in place between 2007 through 2010, FSIS estimates that 49 of the 251 meat, poultry and processed egg product recalls that occurred could have been prevented.

The notice will be posted shortly on the FSIS website and will be available at www.regulations.gov once it is published.