Beef Industry Releases First Best-Practice Guidelines

The Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo) released best practice guidelines for sampling, lotting, and testing beef products at the Beef Industry Safety Summit in early March. This move represents the first time that the industry has come together to produce such overarching guidance practices, according to James Reagan, PhD, chairman of BIFSCo and senior vice president of research, education, and innovation for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, a contractor to the Beef Checkoff Program [].

The “Guidance Document for Sampling and Lotting of Beef Products and Sample Analysis for Pathogens” from Guidance Document for Sampling and Lotting of Beef Products and Sample Analysis for Pathogens

“This will be a living document,” said Dr. Reagan. “As our knowledge increases, we’ll go back and make adjustments.”

When BIFSCo was formed in 2003, according to Dr. Reagan, it soon identified a key problem for the industry: “We didn’t have everyone on the same page,” he said. “The [U.S. Department of Agriculture] had never come out with specifics on lotting, so everyone was doing their own thing. Companies weren’t doing sampling in the same way either. We wanted to compare apples to apples and put everyone on the same page with the best knowledge we have in pathogen-testing programs.”

Safety should not be a competitive issue in the beef industry, Dr. Reagan said. “The only way we can ever make progress on critical issues like E. coli 0157, which remains one of the main pathogens we deal with, is to share our knowledge. At our meetings, intense competitors like Cargill from Cargill and Tyson from Tyson sit down at the same table and talk openly about their data and what they’ve learned.”

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