WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) plans to redesign its E. coli O157:H7 verification testing program for beef trimmings.

FSIS said the goal is to make the program more risk-based and to enable FSIS to calculate on-going statistical prevalence estimates for E. coli O157:H7 in raw beef trimmings. The notice, which appeared in the Federal Register, also discusses the agency’s plans to perform a beef carcass baseline.

FSIS is seeking public comment on its plans, which were developed in response to a 2011 audit by the USDA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG) of FSIS's protocol for N-60 sampling of beef trimmings for E. coli O157:H7. The notice also announces changes that FSIS made to its beef trimmings program to increase both the collection rate and the likelihood that FSIS will find positive samples.