At present, when a ground beef sample tests presumptive positive for E. coli O157:H7, no action is taken until a confirmatory test has been completed, which can take 48 hours. Under the new procedures, traceback investigations at the meat grinding facility and at suppliers of the source meat will begin immediately whenever a presumptive positive result is obtained. This should enable action to be taken to remove contaminated meat from the food chain more quickly.
Commenting on the changes, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm said, “A critical component of preventing foodborne illness is quickly identifying sources of contamination and removing unsafe products from store shelves.” FSIS expects that the new procedures will lead to many more ground beef recalls, but says that they will help prevent foodborne illnesses.
More information about the changes can be found here.