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CINCINNATI - The Kroger Co. has called on its beef suppliers to immediately implement new regulations proposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture that would further enhance the safety of the nation's beef supply.
The USDA regulations are specifically aimed at strengthening protection against bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), and Kroger is among the first U.S. retailers to issue such a directive to its suppliers.
"Kroger shares the concerns of millions of our customers that our beef supply is as safe as is possible," said Kroger's president, Don McGeorge, in a letter to the company's beef suppliers. "In December the USDA announced new guidelines concerning the handling of cattle for human consumption. We expect all Kroger suppliers to immediately implement the USDA guidelines and not wait for the regulatory process to take effect."
Specifically, all beef suppliers must be able to certify to Kroger the following:
-No "downer" animals (or those exhibiting BSE-like symptoms) were processed for food for human consumption.
-All cattle tested for BSE are held until test results are received. Such notification should be in writing and should clearly identify the specific carcass.
-Spinal cords, brains, and other materials that are known as "specified risk material" are not to be used for human food.
-Kroger does not allow any advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems products in its ground beef.
-Slaughtering processes must ensure that portions of the animal's brain are not dislocated into the tissues of the carcass.
-Mechanically separated meat is not used for human food.
Kroger said it will "not be able to do business with suppliers that are unable or unwilling to comply with these requirements," while also urging the USDA to create a mandatory animal identification system that tracks all cattle from birth to slaughter, and to develop more effective testing techniques and technology to detect BSE.