The USDA has proposed new regulations that will require stores to better trace ground beef.
“Currently there’s no regulations that require those retailers to track what products and the amounts and the sources of those products that actually go into their store-ground product,” said Travis O’Quinn, Kansas State University Meat Specialist.
Most stores combine meat products to create the ground beef found on shelves. The USDA wants them to keep records of what meat is used and where it came from. That would make it easier and faster to trace back contaminated beef, hopefully before many people eat it. The proposed regulation could lead to stores buying more pre-packaged ground beef.
“We may see more of a shift toward products coming in foam trays that are already packaged as opposed to being ground on site, just to eliminate the extra record keeping that would be require for retailers,” O’Quinn said.
The proposal is currently open for public comment. Among the changes are requirements that the beef component used in each lot (in pounds), the date and time each lot of raw ground beef product was produced, and the date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces were cleaned and sanitized be disclosed.
Official establishments and retail stores would also have to comply with the proposed record keeping requirements with respect to raw beef products that are ground at an individual customer's request.