Safe Beef from Farm to Table
Commitment to Safety from the Industry, and for Those Who Cook Beef
Food safety requires a deep commitment from both those who produce food, and those who prepare and serve it. Therefore, it is not only important to know what the beef industry is doing to ensure the production and shipping of safe beef, but also how consumers can properly prepare it at home.
Commitment to Safety
From farm to table, the beef industry has a long-standing commitment to providing the public with the safest food possible. This pledge is backed by research, application of safety best practices and public education.
In fact, beef farmers and ranchers have invested more than $28 million in ongoing beef safety research and programs since 1993. As a whole, the industry collectively spends more than $550 million each year on testing, interventions and other safety strategies.
Beef’s primary focus is E. coli prevention. Today, because of research and the cooperative efforts of many partners in the beef supply chain, extensive efforts to reduce and eliminate E. coli are in place on farms, in feedyards and in packing plants across the country.
The good news is that these efforts are working. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that the rate of illness due to E. coli O157 significantly decreased in 2009 — the lowest rate since 2004.
The beef industry is also deeply committed to eliminating potential threats from cattle illnesses such as bovine spongiform encephalopathy or mad cow disease.
Research to improve understanding of foodborne pathogens and identify new ways of controlling them continues to be a priority for the industry.
What You Can Do to Ensure Proper Food Safety
Rigorous testing and inspection ensures that the beef industry distributes only the safest food to the public. Nonetheless, it is important for those who prepare food — either at home or in restaurants— to know the proper cooking techniques to ensure optimal safety.
The four keys to proper preparation of beef include:
- Properly refrigerate beef until time of preparation
- Prepare beef on a clean work surface
- Test the internal temperature of beef as it cooks
- Store and refrigerate leftovers in an air-tight container.
Safe and savory ground beef requires a higher temperature than steaks and roasts, with 160 F being the optimal cooked temperature.