Appendix A to Compliance Guidelines

January 1999
Updated June 1999

Appendix A

Compliance Guidelines For Meeting Lethality Performance Standards For Certain Meat And Poultry Products


Establishments producing ready-to-eat roast beef, cooked beef and corned beef products and certain ready-to-eat poultry products are required by FSIS to meet the lethality performance standards for the reduction of Salmonella contained in §§ 318.17(a)(1) and 381.150(a)(1) of the meat and poultry inspection regulations. Further, FSIS requires meat and poultry establishments, if they are not operating under a HACCP plan, to demonstrate how their processes meet these lethality performance standards within a written process schedule validated for efficacy by a process authority (§§ 318.17(2)(b)and (c) and 381.150 (2)(c) and (d)).

To assist establishments in meeting the lethality requirements, FSIS is issuing these compliance guidelines, which are based upon the time/temperature requirements contained in previous regulations. Establishments may choose to employ these guidelines as their process schedules. FSIS considers these guidelines, if followed precisely, to be validated process schedules, since they contain processing methods already accepted by the Agency as effective.

Also within these guidelines, FSIS has provided discussion regarding disposition of product following heating deviations and advice for the development of customized procedures for meeting the lethality performance standards.

Guidelines for Cooked Beef, Roast Beef, and Cooked Corned Beef

1. Cooked beef and roast beef, including sectioned and formed roasts, chunked and formed roasts, and cooked corned beef can be prepared using one of the following time and temperature combinations to meet either a 6.5-log 10 or 7-log 10 reduction of Salmonella. The stated temperature is the minimum that must be achieved and maintained in all parts of each piece of meat for a least the stated time:

          Minimum Internal         Minimum processing time in

            Temperature             minutes or seconds after

                                  minimum temperature is reached


        Degrees        Degrees       6.5-log
10         7-log

        Fahrenheit     Centigrade    Lethality        Lethality

         130            54.4         112 min.         121 min.

         131            55.0          89 min.          97 min.

         132            55.6          71 min.          77 min.   

         133            56.1          56 min.          62 min.

         134            56.7          45 min.          47 min.

         135            57.2          36 min.          37 min.

         136            57.8          28 min.          32 min.

         137            58.4          23 min.          24 min.

         138            58.9          18 min.          19 min.

         139            59.5          15 min.          15 min.

         140            60.0          12 min.          12 min.

         141            60.6           9 min.          10 min.

         142            61.1           8 min.           8 min.

         143            61.7           6 min.           6 min.

         144            62.2           5 min.           5 min.

         145            62.8           4 min.
*           4 min.

         146            63.3         169 sec.         182 sec.

         147            63.9         134 sec.         144 sec.

         148            64.4         107 sec.         115 sec.

         149            65.0          85 sec.          91 sec.

         150            65.6          67 sec.          72 sec.

         151            66.1          54 sec.          58 sec.

         152            66.7          43 sec.          46 sec.

         153            67.2          34 sec.          37 sec.

         154            67.8          27 sec.          29 sec.

         155            68.3          22 sec.          23 sec.

         156            68.9          17 sec.          19 sec.

         157            69.4          14 sec.          15 sec.

         158            70.0           0 sec.
**         0 sec.

         159            70.6           0 sec.
**         0 sec.

         160            71.1           0 sec  
**         0 sec.


* Past regulations have listed the minimum processing time for roast beef cooked to 145°F as "Instantly." However, due to their large size, most of these roasts dwell at 145°F, or even at higher temperatures, for at least 4 minutes after the minimum internal temperature is reached. FSIS has revised this time/temperature table to reflect this and emphasizes that, to better ensure compliance with the performance standard, establishments should ensure a dwell time of at least 4 minutes if 145°F is the minimum internal temperature employed.

** The required lethalities are achieved instantly when the internal temperature of a cooked meat product reaches 158°F or above.

2. Cooked beef, including sectioned and formed roasts and chunked and formed roasts, and cooked corned beef should be moist cooked throughout the process or, in the case of roast beef or corned beef to be roasted, cooked as in paragraph (3) of this compliance guide. The moist cooking may be accomplished by placing the meat in a sealed, moisture impermeable bag, removing the excess air, and cooking; by completely immersing the meat, unbagged in water throughout the entire cooking process; or by using a sealed oven or steam injection to raise the relative humidity above 90 percent throughout the cooking process.

3. Roast beef or corned beef to be roasted can be cooked by one of the following methods:

  • Heating roasts of 10 pounds or more in an oven maintained at 250 °F (121 °C) or higher throughout a process achieving one of the time/temperature combinations in (1) above;
  • Heating roasts of any size to a minimum internal temperature of 145 °F (62.8 °C) in an oven maintained at any temperature if the relative humidity of the oven is maintained either by continuously introducing steam for 50 percent of the cooking time or by use of a sealed oven for over 50 percent of the cooking time, or if the relative humidity of the oven is maintained at 90 percent or above for at least 25 percent of the total cooking time, but in no case less than 1 hour; or
  • Heating roasts of any size in an oven maintained at any temperature that will satisfy the internal temperature and time combinations of the above chart of this compliance guide if the relative humidity of the oven is maintained at 90 percent or above for at least 25 percent of the total cooking time, but in no case less than 1 hour. The relative humidity may be achieved be use of steam injection or sealed ovens capable of producing and maintaining the required relative humidity.

4. Establishments producing cooked beef, roast beef, or cooked corned beef should have sufficient monitoring equipment, including recording devices, to assure that the time (accuracy assured within 1 minute), the temperature (accuracy assured within 1 °F), and relative humidity (accuracy assured within 5 percent) limits of these processes are being met. Data from the recording devices should be made available to FSIS program employees upon request.

Guidelines for Cooked Poultry Rolls and Other Cooked Poultry Products

1. Cooked poultry rolls and other cooked poultry products should reach an internal temperature of at least 160 °F prior to being removed from the cooking medium, except that cured and smoked poultry rolls and other cured and smoked poultry should reach an internal temperature of at least 155 °F prior to being removed from the cooking medium. Cooked ready-to-eat product to which heat will be applied incidental to a subsequent processing procedure may be removed from the media for such processing provided that it is immediately fully cooked to the 160 °F internal temperature.

2. Establishments producing cooked poultry rolls and other cooked poultry products should have sufficient monitoring equipment, including recording devices, to assure that the temperature (accuracy assured within 1 °F) limits of these processes are being met. Data from the recording devices should be made available to FSIS program employees upon request.


Heating Deviations and Slow Come Up Time

Determining the appropriate disposition of products following heating deviations can be even more difficult than determining the disposition of product after a cooling deviation. Heating deviations, which most often involve slow come-up time or an inordinate dwell time within the optimum temperature range for microorganism growth, can foster the multiplication of many pathogens. This multiplication sometimes can be so prodigious that even recooking may be ineffective in rendering the product safe. Also, certain toxigenic bacteria can release toxins into the product. Some of these toxins, such as those of Staphylococcus aureus , are extremely heat stable and are not inactivated by normal recooking temperatures.

Further, the sampling of product following a heating deviation may not yield sufficient information to determine the safety of the product in question. Heating deviations can favor the multiplication of many types of bacteria. It would be difficult and expensive to sample for all of them.

Depending on the circumstances, establishments may want to use computer modeling to estimate the relative multiplication of bacteria. For example, in a past incident involving an extreme heating deviation, product was put in an oven in which the temperature was inadvertently set to 95°F for about 12 hours. Computer modeling was easily applied in this case because much of the dwell time was at one temperature. The Agency determined that within a 6 hour time frame (with other growth conditions assumed to be favorable), the relative multiplication of many pathogens of concern could have exceeded five logs. Clearly the product could not be salvaged by reprocessing and was therefore destroyed.

Under changing conditions of temperature, however, computer modeling becomes more difficult. One approach is to average lag/log times over small increments such as 5° and add these times to get an approximation of possible total relative growth over a larger increment of time. Establishments must keep in mind that the population of bacteria before processing is generally unknown and that assumptions in the high range often are used as input parameters in the modeling.

Establishments should ultimately rely upon the expertise of a processing authority to determine the severity of heating deviations and subsequent appropriate disposition of the product in question. Dwell times of greater than 6 hours in the 50°F to 130°F range should be viewed as especially hazardous, as this temperature range can foster substantial growth of many pathogens of concern. And, a knowledge of the specific product and factors that would favor or inhibit the growth of various bacteria is essential.

Computer Modeling Program Availability

The Microbial Food Safety Research Unit of the Eastern Regional Research Center, USDA Agriculture Research Service, has developed a bacterial pathogen modeling program. Entitled "Pathogen Modeling Program-Version 5.1 for Windows," it is available on the Internet from Other programs may be available commercially.

Customized Processes

Although compliance with these guidelines will yield product that meets the lethality performance standards, some establishments may want to develop customized processing procedures that meet the codified lethality performance standards: 6.5 10 log of Salmonella in ready-to-eat beef products and 7 log 10 in ready-to-eat poultry products. Establishments also may want to develop and implement processes using alternative lethalities. Keep in mind, however, that all processes also must achieve, throughout the product, an appropriate reduction of other pathogens of concern and their toxins or toxic metabolites.

Establishments or their process authorities may develop customized procedures or alternative lethalities that meet the performance standards by using information obtained from the literature and/or by comparing their methods with established processes. However, statistical calculations on results obtained from sampling alone are not sufficient to demonstrate that product satisfies reduced initial product conditions or that product meets the performance standards. Rather, the demonstration should be based on scientific rationale, supported by experimental data.

One of the most definitive tools at the disposal of an establishment or processing authority is the challenge study. Although challenge studies must be conducted in the laboratory rather than the establishment, they should be designed and conducted to accurately simulate the commercial process. Challenge studies should be undertaken by individuals who have a thorough knowledge of laboratory methods used in salmonellae research. A cocktail of various serotypes of Salmonella should be used in an inoculated pack study to demonstrate that the lethality performance standard is met. Relatively heat resistant pathogenic strains should be included in the cocktail to develop a worst case. The serotypes/strains selected should be among those that have been historically implicated in an appreciable number of outbreaks.

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For Further Information:
FSIS Technical Service Center
106 South 15th Street
Suite 904
Omaha, NE 68102
PHONE: (402) 221-7400
FAX: (402) 221-7438

Last Modified May 19, 2013