The u.s. Department of Agriculture’s (usDA’s) Food safety and Inspection service (FsIs) has announced plans to implement “new traceback procedures when FsIs or another agency finds raw ground beef or bench trim presump- tive positive for Escherichia coli O157:H7.” under the new system, which takes effect October 14, 2014, the agency will ask suppliers to recall products that test positive for E. coli O157:H7 later in the supply chain if FsIs or another agency determines that contamination most likely occurred at the supplier’s establishment and if the product in question was sent to other grinding facilities.

As explained in an August 13, 2013, press release, these new procedures “will allow the agency to trace contaminated ground beef back to its source more quickly, remove it from commerce, and find the root cause of the incident to prevent it from recurring.”To this end, FsIs will begin traceback investigations as soon as it receives a presumptive positive result instead of waiting the two days needed to confirm E. coli O157:H7 contamination. The agency estimates that “dozens more recalls may occur once these new protections are in place.”

“A critical component of preventing foodborne illness is quickly identifying sources of contamination and removing unsafe products from store shelves,” said usDA Deputy under secretary for Food safety Brian Ronholm. “The expe- dited traceback procedures being announced today will allow FsIs to take action more quickly, which will make a significant difference in food safety investigations and in preventing foodborne illnesses.” See Federal Register, August 13, 2014.