FSIS will discontinue Salmonella sampling set procedures in ground beef products for most firms from June 29 after considering comments on proposed changes.
The move will not affect establishments with results that exceeded the standard for Salmonella in the most recently completed set.
The action is in place until it establishes a revised Salmonella performance standard for ground beef.
FSIS will also begin analyzing for Salmonella in raw beef samples for STEC analysis and will increase the raw ground beef sample portion for Salmonella analysis from 25 to 325 grams.
The agency intends to use the results from its verification sampling program to estimate Salmonella prevalence in raw ground beef and beef manufacturing trimmings and develop a performance standard for ground beef product.
FSIS published the document announcing changes it intended to make in its Salmonella sampling program for raw beef products in August 2013 .
Ten comments were received from trade associations, private citizens, consumer advocacy associations, including a joint submission from two of them, a large meat processor, and a foreign government.
Most of the comments supported the proposed changes to procedures for Salmonella verification sampling and testing of raw beef products, said the rule.
Other comments supported the intent to estimate Salmonella prevalence in raw beef products, to serotype or enumerate positive samples, to identify specific strains, and to develop a performance standard for ground beef.
A trade association requested that FSIS conduct a risk assessment that addresses the risk that Salmonella presents in pork, chicken, turkey, and ready-to-eat products.
FSIS said it intends to complete a risk assessment for Salmonella in comminuted poultry and poultry parts this fiscal year and will develop additional risk assessments as necessary.
FSIS said alternatives to set-based testing for Salmonella include a “moving window” approach, which would involve evaluating a number of sequential results from a single establishment to assess process control.
The agency said this approach would allow for on-going scheduled Salmonella sampling, similar to the approach for STEC testing, and would provide FSIS with more flexibility for scheduling sample collection at different establishments.
The joint submission comment requested information on how big the window would be, how often product would be sampled at a single establishment and analytical capacity to adequately take such an approach.
“With a “moving window” approach, FSIS will evaluate a predetermined number of sequential results for ground beef product from a single establishment to assess process control. The size of the moving window and the threshold for positives within that window will be included in the performance standard developed,” replied FSIS in the rule document.
“At the same time it announces the new performance standard for raw ground beef, FSIS will detail its plans for the new approach in the Federal Register and consider any comments received on it prior to implementation.
“FSIS is considering using this approach for all Salmonella performance standards and will provide more explanation of how the approach will work for all classes of product.”
To read the rule document published in the Federal Register by USDA-FSIS click here .