USDA has finalized new standards for ground beef purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) for Federal food and nutrition assistance programs, including the National School Lunch Program. The new requirements will apply to AMS ground beef contracts awarded on or after July 1, 2010.

In addition to continuing a zero tolerance for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella, the new AMS standards: (1) tighten microbiological testing protocols; (2) tighten the microbiological upper specification and critical limits; (3) increase microbiological sampling frequency for finished products to every 15 minutes; and, (4) institute additional rejection criteria for source trimmings used to manufacture AMS purchased ground beef.

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