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Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. will implement new process controls standards and goals for beef to further shield customers from foodborne illnesses. The measures are the latest additions to a food safety program that already requires ground beef suppliers to test for E. coli O 157:H7 and achieve prevention-based certification according to one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) internationally recognized standards.
“At Walmart and Sam’s Club, our commitment to providing our customers with safe, quality foods is unparalleled,” explained Wal-Mart Stores VP for food safety Frank Yiannas. “As part of our continuous improvement efforts, we go further than many U.S. retailers in requiring leading-edge food safety standards throughout the entire food production chain.”
Yiannas added that the “additional layer of protection for our customers” was added in the wake of several recent beef recalls.
The program now requires Walmart and Sam’s Club beef suppliers to institute controls that would considerably lower potential contamination levels and ensure that their measures are effective through specialized testing.
Suppliers who don’t run slaughterhouses must comply with the new standard by June 2011. Beef slaughterhouse suppliers must undergo a two-step process, with the first step to be completed by June 2011 and the second by June 2012. Walmart and Sam’s Club will work with beef suppliers to make sure that the new requirement are implemented at no further cost to customers.
Numerous stakeholders, among them consumer groups, regulators, academicians, beef suppliers and industry associations, have reviewed and approved the new protocol. “Walmart is taking a progressive approach to assuring the safety of the foods they sell,” noted Jim Dickson, Iowa State University professor of animal science. “This is a win for the consumers, the beef industry in general and Walmart. The lessons learned from Walmart’s approach will be applicable to ground beef sold everywhere.”
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates 8,400 retail units under 55 different banners in 15 countries. Sam’s Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, serves over 47 million U.S. Members with locations nationwide, as well as in Brazil, China, Mexico and Puerto Rico.