May 15, 2010

USDA Toughens Ground Beef Guidelines

Companies that sell ground beef in federal nutrition programs, including school lunch programs, will need to meet stricter food safety guidelines starting this summer, the US Department of Agriculture said Friday.

The USDA said that beef purchased by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service will be subjected to more frequent testing, and it will ban certain trimmings of the product.

"AMS will also consider any vendor classified by (USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service) as having a long-term poor safety record as an ineligible vendor until a complete cause-and-effect analysis is completed," the USDA said in a statement.

The new requirements will become effective on ground beef contracts awarded after June 30, 2010. They are part of an array of initiatives announced in February to improve food safety in purchases for school lunch and nutritional assistance programs.

The government spends upwards of $17 billion a year on child nutrition, mostly in the school lunch program. Nearly 32 million children use the school lunch program and about 11 million are in the school breakfast program. 63 percent of meals are free or reduced priced.


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