fong.bmpAccording to press reports, in a testimony before the food agency subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations Phyllis K. Fong, Inspector General of the Office of Inspector General’s (OIG) discussed its budget request and recent audit and investigative activities. In a focus on USDA, Fong questioned beef trim sampling practices, recommending that the agency redesign its methodology.

One such assessment audit focused on Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) sampling of beef trim for E. coli. Currently, inspectors take 60 samples from large lots of beef trim to test. “We found, however, that this procedure does not yield a statistical precision that is reasonable for food safety,” she said. “Although 60 samples may be adequate to detect widespread contamination, more are needed when E. coli is less prevalent.” FSIS’ current sampling methodology results in detection of E. coli less than half the time when it is present in one percent of a beef trim lot, Fong explained, adding, “Accordingly, we recommended that the agency place its testing process on sounder statistical ground by redesigning its sampling methodology to account for varying levels of contamination.”

Translation – sample more and more often. Read the rest of the Testimony.

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