THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine

BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES

500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 Phone: 202 334 3062 Fax: 202 334 1978 E-mail:banr@nas.edu www.dels.nas.edu/banr

November 29, 2010

Ms. Rayne Pegg

Administrator

Agricultural Marketing Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave. SW Washington, DC 20250

Mr. Alfred Almanza

Administrator

Food Safety and Inspection Service

U.S. Department of Agriculture

1400 Independence Ave. SW Washington, DC 20250

Dear Ms. Pegg and Mr. Almanza,

In response to the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the National Research Council of the National Academies created an ad hoc Committee on An Evaluation of the Food Safety Requirements of the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The committee’s charge is to evaluate the scientific basis of the current food safety requirements and prepare a report of its findings.

The committee (see Appendix A for membership and biographies) had two meetings in Washington, DC: on July 14–15 and on August 10–11, 2010. In the first meeting, the committee had the opportunity to hear from two industry experts about their companies’ food safety program. In the second meeting, the committee met with representatives of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and FSIS who have provided technical advice to the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program. The committee also spent part of the second meeting on report preparation in closed session. The AMS representatives attended open sessions of both meetings and entertained questions and requests for any additional documents that the committee needed for its study.

Throughout its deliberations and meetings since the beginning of this study, the committee has benefitted from open and frank discussion with USDA representatives—including those of AMS, ARS, and FSIS—and representatives of the meat processing industry. The committee expresses gratitude to them for their assistance in gathering information. The committee also commends AMS for placing a high priority on food safety issues and for seeking advice and input from ARS, FSIS, industry, and the National Research Council in establishing and reviewing its current specifications. In addition, this report reflects countless hours of research, writing, and editing by the committee and National Research Council staff, and the chair expresses sincere appreciation for their dedication and work.

The product of this fast-track study is the attached report. The report contains the committee’s findings and recommendations for AMS’s consideration as it continues to procure and provide safe



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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine BOARD ON AGRICULTURE AND NATURAL RESOURCES 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 Phone: 202 334 3062 Fax: 202 334 1978 E-mail:banr@nas.edu www.dels.nas.edu/banr November 29, 2010 Ms. Rayne Pegg Administrator Agricultural Marketing Service U.S. Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave. SW Washington, DC 20250 Mr. Alfred Almanza Administrator Food Safety and Inspection Service U.S. Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Ave. SW Washington, DC 20250 Dear Ms. Pegg and Mr. Almanza, In response to the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the National Research Council of the National Academies created an ad hoc Committee on An Evaluation of the Food Safety Requirements of the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). The committee’s charge is to evaluate the scientific basis of the current food safety requirements and prepare a report of its findings. The committee (see Appendix A for membership and biographies) had two meetings in Washington, DC: on July 14–15 and on August 10–11, 2010. In the first meeting, the committee had the opportunity to hear from two industry experts about their companies’ food safety program. In the second meeting, the committee met with representatives of the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and FSIS who have provided technical advice to the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program. The committee also spent part of the second meeting on report preparation in closed session. The AMS representatives attended open sessions of both meetings and entertained questions and requests for any additional documents that the committee needed for its study. Throughout its deliberations and meetings since the beginning of this study, the committee has benefitted from open and frank discussion with USDA representatives—including those of AMS, ARS, and FSIS—and representatives of the meat processing industry. The committee expresses gratitude to them for their assistance in gathering information. The committee also commends AMS for placing a high priority on food safety issues and for seeking advice and input from ARS, FSIS, industry, and the National Research Council in establishing and reviewing its current specifications. In addition, this report reflects countless hours of research, writing, and editing by the committee and National Research Council staff, and the chair expresses sincere appreciation for their dedication and work. The product of this fast-track study is the attached report. The report contains the committee’s findings and recommendations for AMS’s consideration as it continues to procure and provide safe 1

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An Evaluation of the Food Safety Requirements of the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program ground beef products to the National School Lunch Program and other federal food and nutrition programs. Sincerely, Gary R. Acuff, Chair Committee on An Evaluation of the Food Safety Requirements of the Federal Purchase Ground Beef Program 2