NCBA takes action to reduce E. coli O157:H7


San Antonio-The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) says it is taking action to further reduce E. coli O157:H7 in beef production.

San Antonio-

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association (NCBA) says it is taking action to further reduce E. coli O157:H7 in beef production.

More than 200 industry leaders, representing each link in the beef productionchain, participated in an intensive summit here in January.

"The leaders of our industry have taken unprecedented action toensure that safe, wholesome U.S. beef becomes even safer," says TerryStokes, CEO, National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which managed the summiton behalf of the Cattlemen's Beef Board and America's beef producers. "Safetyhas always been our top priority and as a result, U.S. beef is one of thesafest in the world. But we can do even better. I am confident that thefarm-to-table solutions we've identified at this summit will help us furtherreduce and eventually eliminate E. coli O157:H7 in the beef supply,"Stokes adds.

The action plan is designed to build on recent successes in combatingfoodborne pathogens. An April 2002 report from the Centers for Disease Controland Prevention showed an overall 23 percent decline in illness from thetop four bacterial pathogens since 1996. Moreover, the report states thatE. coli infections alone dropped 21 percent since 2000.

The summit focused on identifying good manufacturing practices, interventionsand research needed to reduce the incidence of E. coli.

Action steps were identified for each industry segment: cattle production,fabrication, processing, retail and foodservice. Specific actions recommendedinclude:

* Expanded research and fast-tracked approval of interventionssuch as cattle vaccines and feed additives.

* Standardization of safety testing and verification at packingplants.

* Uniform practice of sampling, testing and negative confirmationbefore meat processing.

* Microbial control systems for foodservice suppliers.

* Consumer information regarding cooking temperatures and thermometeruse at point of purchase.

NCBA adds, these actions will complement existing intervention practicesincluding thermal pasteurization and carcass washing systems that eliminateor reduce the presence of pathogens.

"These research breakthroughs coupled with industry-initiated meetingssuch as this summit are the kinds of creative solutions that will help usall live up to our commitment to safety," says Dave Theno, Ph.D, chairof the summit's Foodservice Working Group and senior vice president of qualityand logistics for Jack In The Box. "In the past decade, we have madetremendous strides in reducing the incidences of foodborne illness,"he adds.

Stokes adds, "The working session and the actions we have identifiedare great examples of the cooperation and collaboration that always havebeen characteristic of our industry. I know that the nation's beef producersfeel more confident than ever in the safety of the beef we put on America'stables, including our own."

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