A Safer Beef Supply?


They call it “bench trim”—remnants from steaks and other cuts of meat that are used to make ground beef.

In an attempt to prevent E. coli outbreaks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection Service has issued a guidance that amps up inspection efforts. Inspectors would begin taking samples of bench trim, which is not routinely tested, during site visits.

According to FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, MD, the guidance—which would apply to mainstream and organic meat producers—represents a shift from a reactive (dealing with outbreaks) to a proactive (preventing contamination) agenda.

In recent years, E. coli has been responsible for numerous outbreaks. The bacterium can cause bloody diarrhea, dehydration and kidney failure. Most susceptible to infection are children, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

Consumer groups, lawmakers and the Obama administration have demanded FDA reforms and an overhaul of our antiquated food safety system.

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