The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) plans to issue a Federal Register notice within the next two to three months withholding the stamp of inspection on meat products until adulterant test samples are returned with negative results.
Kenneth Petersen, assistant administrator of the Office of Field Operations for USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, said USDA will not solicit comments on the new rule, which will go into effect within 30 to 90 days after being posted in the Federal Register.
Meat processors will be able to move the product -- even as far as to a customer's loading dock -- but the shipment cannot be completed, the product cannot leave the processor's control or be handed over to the buyer until the test results are confirmed.
The rules will apply to test results for pathogens that have been declared adulterants, which would include such pathogens as E. coli O157:H7 in ground beef, salmonella in ready-to-eat products and listeria. The rules would not apply to, for example, salmonella in raw chicken products.
Waiting for test result confirmation -- commonly referred to as "test and hold" -- is already a widespread industry practice and many industry groups have encouraged USDA to make the practice mandatory.
Reprinted in part from meatingplace.com