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More than 240 beef industry leaders, researchers and government officials gathered March 2-4 in Dallas, to investigate ways of further increasing the safety of beef products. Attendance at the 9th Beef Industry Safety Summit, funded in part by the Beef Checkoff, was a new record, according to the event's organizers.
The three-day event included updates on current safety issues and interventions, the latest research findings, forums on emerging pathogens, and technical workshops that allowed attendees to share ideas on improving processes that can best reduce safety risks.
Included in the program was a keynote address from Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, USDA under secretary for food safety, who reminded the group that "everyone wins when food is safe, and no one wins when it is not."
Among the topics discussed at the event was the emergence of non-O157 STECs, or Shiga toxin producing E. coli. Not enough is known about these pathogens, some of which can cause significant human illness, according to industry experts. They are not easy to identify in the laboratory, and government officials are expressing more interest in STECs, some of which may be associated with beef.
The Beef Industry Safety Summit is coordinated by the Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo), a group that represents every segment of the beef industry, from cow-calf producers to packers and processors to retailers and foodservice operators.