9 CFR § 310.25 - Contamination with microorganisms; process control verification criteria and testing; pathogen reduction standards.

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§ 310.25 Contamination with microorganisms; process control verification criteria and testing; pathogen reduction standards.

(a) Criteria for verifying process control; E. coli testing. (1) Each official establishment that slaughters livestock must test for Escherichia coli Biotype 1 (E.coli) Establishments that slaughter more than one type of livestock or both livestock and poultry, shall test the type of livestock or poultry slaughtered in the greatest number. The establishment shall:

(i) Collect samples in accordance with the sampling techniques, methodology, and frequency requirements in paragraph (a)(2) of this section;

(ii) Obtain analytic results in accordance with paragraph (a)(3) of this section; and

(iii) Maintain records of such analytic results in accordance with paragraph (a)(4) of this section.

(2) Sampling requirements.

(i) Written procedures. Each establishment shall prepare written specimen collection procedures which shall identify employees designated to collect samples, and shall address location(s) of sampling, how sampling randomness is achieved, and handling of the sample to ensure sample integrity. The written procedure shall be made available to FSIS upon request.

(ii) Sample collection. The establishment must collect samples from all chilled livestock carcasses, except those boned before chilling (hot-boned), which must be sampled after the final wash. Samples must be collected in the following manner;

(A) For cattle, establishments must sponge or excise tissue from the flank, brisket and rump, except for hide-on calves, in which case establishments must take samples by sponging from inside the flank, inside the brisket, and inside the rump.

(B) For sheep, goat, horse, mule, or other equine carcasses, establishments must sponge from the flank, brisket and rump, except for hide-on carcasses, in which case establishments must take samples by sponging from inside the flank, inside the brisket, and inside the rump.

(iii) Sampling frequency. Slaughter establishments, except very low volume establishments as defined in paragraph (a)(2)(v) of this section, must take samples at a frequency proportional to the volume of production at the following rates:

(A) Cattle, sheep, goats, horses, mules, and other equines: 1 test per 300 carcasses, but, a minimum of one sample during each week of operation.

(iv) Sampling frequency alternatives. An establishment operating under a validated HACCP plan in accordance with § 417.2(b) of this chapter may substitute an alternative frequency for the frequency of sampling required under paragraph (a)(2)(iii) of this section if,

(A) The alternative is an integral part of the establishment's verification procedures for its HACCP plan and,

(B) FSIS does not determine, and notify the establishment in writing, that the alternative frequency is inadequate to verify the effectiveness of the establishment's processing controls.

(v) Sampling in very low volume establishments.

(A) Very low volume establishments annually slaughter no more than 6,000 cattle, 6,000 sheep, 6,000 goats, 6,000 horses, mules or other equines, or a combination of livestock not exceeding 6,000 cattle and 20,000 total of all livestock. Very low volume establishments that collect samples by sponging shall collect at least one sample per week, starting the first full week of operation after June 1 of each year, and continue sampling at a minimum of once each week the establishment operates until June 1 of the following year or until 13 samples have been collected, whichever comes first. Very low volume establishments collecting samples by excising tissue from carcasses shall collect one sample per week, starting the first full week of operation after June 1 of each year, and continue sampling at a minimum of once each week the establishment operates until one series of 13 tests meets the criteria set forth in paragraph (a)(5)(i) of this section.

(B) Upon the establishment's meeting requirements of paragraph (a)(2)(v)(A) of this section, weekly sampling and testing is optional, unless changes are made in establishment facilities, equipment, personnel or procedures that may affect the adequacy of existing process control measures, as determined by the establishment or FSIS. FSIS determinations that changes have been made requiring resumption of weekly testing shall be provided to the establishment in writing.

(3) Analysis of samples. Laboratories may use any quantitative method for analysis of E. coli that is approved as an AOAC Official Method of the AOAC International (formerly the Association of Official Analytical Chemists) 2 or approved and published by a scientific body and based on the results of a collaborative trial conducted in accordance with an internationally recognized protocol on collaborative trials and compared against the three tube Most Probable Number (MPN) method and agreeing with the 95 percent upper and lower confidence limit of the appropriate MPN index.

2 A copy of the current edition/revision of the “Official Methods of AOAC International,” 16th edition, 3rd revision, 1997, is on file with the Director, Office of the Federal Register, and may be purchased from the Association of Official Analytical Chemists International, Inc., 481 North Frederick Ave., Suite 500, Gaithersburg, MD 20877–2417.

(4) Recording of test results. The establishment shall maintain accurate records of all test results, in terms of CFU/cm 2 of surface area sponged or excised. Results shall be recorded onto a process control chart or table showing at least the most recent 13 test results, by type of livestock slaughtered. Records shall be retained at the establishment for a period of 12 months and shall be made available to FSIS upon request.

(5) Criteria for evaluation of test results.

(i) An establishment excising samples from carcasses is operating within the criteria when the most recent E. coli test result does not exceed the upper limit (M), and the number of samples, if any, testing positive at levels above (m) is three or fewer out of the most recent 13 samples (n) taken, as follows:

Table 1 to paragraph (a)(5)—Evaluation of E. Coli Test Results

Type of livestock Lower limit of
marginal range
Upper limit of
marginal range
Number of sample
Maximum number permitted in marginal range
Cattle Negative a 100 CFU/cm 2 13 3

a Negative is defined by the sensitivity of the method used in the baseline study with a limit of sensitivity of at least 5 cfu/cm 2 carcass surface area.

(ii) Establishments sponging carcasses shall evaluate E. coli test results using statistical process control techniques.

(6) Failure to meet criteria. Test results that do not meet the criteria described in paragraph (a)(5) of this section are an indication that the establishment may not be maintaining process controls sufficient to prevent fecal contamination. FSIS shall take further action as appropriate to ensure that all applicable provisions of the law are being met.

(7) Failure to test and record. Inspection shall be suspended in accordance with rules of practice that will be adopted for such proceedings upon a finding by FSIS that one or more provisions of paragraphs (a) (1)–(4) of this section have not been complied with and written notice of same has been provided to the establishment.

(b) Pathogen reduction performance standard; Salmonella—(1) Raw meat product performance standards for Salmonella. An establishment's raw meat products, when sampled and tested by FSIS for Salmonella, as set forth in this section, may not test positive for Salmonella at a rate exceeding the applicable national pathogen reduction performance standard, as provided in Table 1 to this paragraph:

Table 1 to paragraph (b)(1)—Salmonella Performance Standards

Class of product Performance Standard (percent positive for Salmonella) a Number of samples tested
Maximum number of positives to achieve Standard
Steers/heifers 1.0% 82 1
Cows/bulls 2.7% 58 2
Ground beef 7.5% 53 5

a Performance Standards are FSIS's calculation of the national prevalence of Salmonella on the indicated raw product based on data developed by FSIS in its nationwide microbiological data collection programs and surveys. Copies of Reports on FSIS's Nationwide Microbiological Data Collection Programs and Nationwide Microbiological Surveys used in determining the prevalence of Salmonella on raw products are available in the FSIS Docket Room.

(2) Enforcement. FSIS will sample and test raw meat products in an individual establishment on an unannounced basis to determine prevalence of Salmonella in such products to determine compliance with the standard. The frequency and timing of such testing will be based on the establishment's previous test results and other information concerning the establishment's performance. In an establishment producing more than one class of product subject to the pathogen reduction standard, FSIS may sample any or all such classes of products. 3

3 A copy of FSIS's “Sample Collection Guidelines and Procedure for Isolation and Identification of Salmonella from Meat and Poultry Products” is available for inspection in the FSIS Docket Room.

(3) Noncompliance and establishment response. When FSIS determines that an establishment has not met the performance standard:

(i) The establishment shall take immediate action to meet the standard.

(ii) If the establishment fails to meet the standard on the next series of compliance tests for that product, the establishment shall reassess its HACCP plan for that product and take appropriate corrective actions.

(iii) Failure by the establishment to act in accordance with paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section, or failure to meet the standard on the third consecutive series of FSIS-conducted tests for that product, constitutes failure to maintain sanitary conditions and failure to maintain an adequate HACCP plan, in accordance with part 417 of this chapter, for that product, and will cause FSIS to suspend inspection services. Such suspension will remain in effect until the establishment submits to the FSIS Administrator or his/her designee satisfactory written assurances detailing the action taken to correct the HACCP system and, as appropriate, other measures taken by the establishment to reduce the prevalence of pathogens.

[61 FR 38864, July 25, 1996, as amended at 62 FR 26217, May 13, 1997; 63 FR 1735, Jan. 12, 1998; 64 FR 66553, Nov. 29, 1999; 84 FR 52348, Oct. 1, 2019]