The Office of the Inspector General says the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service should improve downstream testing methods of boxed beef products for E. coli prior to grinding, according to a report released this week.
OIG conducted the study at 11 processing facilities in five states to understand the boxed beef testing process. The office analyzed data from 1,750 establishments and selected 22 additional establishments for review.
At review completion, OIG found five key areas for improvement: FSIS should ensure all ground beef components are part of the E. coli testing program; bench trim grinding oversight should be improved; accurate data for correct sampling of beef for E. coli testing should be required; and FSIS should ensure proper records for trace back.
Of the findings and corresponding recommendations, Alfred Almanza, FSIS administrator, issued a response to Gil Harden, OIG assistant inspector general, noting that further action on each recommendation is underway or will be initiated.
OIG completed audit fieldwork from March 2012 to September 2012, focusing on boxed beef products purchased and processed from Jan. 1, 2010 to March 31, 2012.
Click here for an in-depth review of OIG findings.