By: Hilary Thesmar, PhD, RD, FMI Vice President, Food Safety Programs, FMI and Stephanie Barnes, Regulatory Counsel, FMI

ground beef in plastic tray

Updated October 3, 2016

Compliance for the FSIS ground meat record keeping rule begins October 1, 2016. On Wednesday, September 28, 2016, FSIS published a Notice 75-16 to inform Inspection Personnel how to verify whether official establishments and retail stores are maintaining required records concerning suppliers and source materials for raw beef ground at the establishment or retail store. FSIS has also posted to their website a Question and Answer document on the Grinding Records Rule.  

The Final Rule, “Records to be Kept by Official Establishments and Retail Stores that Grind Raw Beef Products” went into effect June 20, 2016 with an enforcement date of October 1, 2016. The delayed enforcement date provided FSIS additional time for outreach to assist establishments with compliance. FSIS held a webinar for FMI to share information about the final rule and answer questions from FMI members. View the slides from the webinar FSIS provided to FMI Members here. FSIS is currently developing a compliance guide and responses to common questions, which will be published on FSIS’ website.

On Monday, December 14, 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released a final rule amending its recordkeeping regulations for all official establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef products for sale in commerce.

Among the rule’s requirements, retail establishments must maintain the following records:

  • The establishment numbers of establishments supplying material used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef product;
  • All supplier lot numbers and production dates;
  • The names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next;
  • The date and time each lot of raw ground beef product is produced; and
  • The date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.

FMI has a long-standing relationship with FSIS and has been working with the agency since 2009 when FSIS officials provided guidance to the retail industry stating that retail stores should keep appropriate records to aid in investigations involving FSIS-regulated products associated with foodborne illnesses and other food safety incidents. Following the guidance, FSIS released a proposed rule on July 22, 2014. FMI submitted extensive comments on the proposed rule and hosted two store tours with officials from FSIS and the Office of Management and Budget. During these meetings, FMI explained the economic impact of USDA’s meat grinding requirements on the supermarket industry and stressed the need for a simplified recordkeeping process, such as FMI's Best Practices Guide and Sample Record developed by FMI’s members and food safety team. FMI also urged FSIS to consider the significant economic impact of the proposed rule, including the time required to comply with the recordkeeping requirements.

Changes from the Proposed Rule 

In response to FMI comments and stakeholder input, FSIS is not adopting two requirements that were in the 2014 proposed rule. First, establishments and retail stores will not have to maintain records concerning the weight of each source component. Additionally, FSIS is not requiring that establishments maintain records of the names, points of contact, and phone numbers of each official establishment. FSIS also shortened the recordkeeping retention time from two years to one year after the date of the recorded grinding activity. 

FMI compiled a regulatory alert upon the release of the final rule, and we will continue to provide additional resources, including a sample recordkeeping form based on the requirements in the final rule. For more information, please contact Stephanie Barnes or Hilary Thesmar