Beef Produced by Advanced Meat / Bone Separation Machinery & Meat Recovery Systems
From January through August 2002, FSIS conducted a survey of Advanced Meat Recovery (AMR) products derived from the vertebral column of cattle to establish a baseline for the prevalence of spinal cord and Dorsal Root Ganglia (DRG) in beef AMR products (referred to as the 2002 Beef AMR Survey). In the 2002 Beef AMR Survey, the Agency found that while some establishments were able to consistently produce beef AMR product that was free of spinal cord and DRG, a majority of the establishments had difficulty keeping spinal cord and DRG out of their AMR products. Overall, FSIS found that approximately 76% (25 of 34) of the establishments whose AMR product was tested had positive laboratory results for spinal cord, DRG, or both in their final beef AMR products. The survey also found that approximately 35% (89 of 256) of all final AMR product samples that were tested had positive laboratory results for spinal cord, DRG, or both.
In March 2003, after completion of the 2002 Beef AMR Survey, FSIS implemented a routine regulatory sampling program of beef products from AMR systems as an additional measure to prevent misbranding of beef AMR products. Prior to the implementation of this regulatory sampling program, FSIS inspection program personnel collected AMR product samples for analysis for the presence of spinal cord tissue only if they believed that the establishment was not completely removing spinal cord from the vertebral column before the vertebral bones entered the AMR system (FSIS Directive 7160.2, April 14, 1997). Under the revised regulatory sampling program, FSIS inspection program personnel take samples of beef AMR product on a routine basis to verify that spinal cord tissue is not present in such product (FSIS Directive 7160.3, Revision 1, August 25,2003) | PDF.
The purpose of the initial regulatory program implemented in March 2003 was to test for Central Nervous System (CNS) tissue in samples of beef AMR. CNS tissue includes brain or spinal cord tissues. Since brain tissue would not be expected, a CNS positive was a sample positive for spinal cord. On January 12, 2004, FSIS published an interim final rule that prohibited Dorsal Root Ganglia (DRG) in beef AMR. When the rule became effective on January 12, 2004, all random regulatory samples were tested for both CNS and DRG tissues. Under the current regulatory program, production lots that are positive for either DRG or CNS do not enter the food supply.
During 2003, the regulatory program was only looking for spinal cord. However, FSIS pathologists also examined many of the samples for Dorsal Root Ganglia (DRG). DRG results were recorded for 579 of the 843 regulatory samples. These 579 samples were a mixture of the 342 random verification samples and 501 follow-up samples. DRG were found in 10.9 percent of the samples where DRG findings were recorded.
The results from random testing of beef AMR are summarized in Table 1. All establishments producing Beef AMR and using vertebral columns as an ingredient are scheduled for a sample every three weeks. After an establishment is scheduled, inspection program personnel then randomly select a production lot to be tested. Table 1 does not include follow-up sampling to verify the effectiveness of preventive and corrective actions taken after a random positive. The 2003 results for DRG were included in Table 1 to help illustrate trends, recognizing that these results were based on a mixture of both random verification and follow-up samples.
Figures 1 and 2 (PDF Only) include the available data covering 2002 through 2005 for both CNS tissue (spinal cord) and DRG. The survey results from 2002 were included on both figures to help illustrate trends. That survey found that approximately 35% (89 of 256) of beef AMR product samples that were tested had positive laboratory results for spinal cord, DRG, or both. None of the 2004-2005 regulatory samples tested positive for both spinal cord and DRG. As shown in both Table 1 and Figures 1 and 2, the overall percentage of samples positive for either CNS or DRG was 3.9% in 2005, down from the 35% found in the 2002 survey.
Tables & Figures