Since January of 2003, representatives from every sector of the beef industry have worked together on unified best practice documents to serve as blueprints for making beef an even safer product. All sectors bring together their best resources and create shared documents to function as guidance for food safety practices and procedures.

To help fulfill the BIFSCo commitment to develop strategies that solve the challenges of foodborne pathogens in beef, industry representatives from all sectors collaborate on an ongoing basis to create unified best practices to serve as guidance for developing customized safety documents. These documents explain procedures that have been implemented successfully throughout the industry. For pre-harvest, available data does not support the development of a best practice document. The materials below can, however, provide perspective for evaluating management practices and products for use in a specific system.

In addition to BIFSCo-developed documents, other resources with safety information applicable to the different sectors are included in the section.

Pre-HarvestHarvestFurther ProcessingGround BeefMicrobial Testing and ControlsOther ResourcesLinks


The Beef Industry Food Safety Council (BIFSCo) has established minimum requirements for use in evaluating products. Companies may submit documentation supporting their products to BIFSCo for review against these requirements at any time. While BIFSCo evaluates the submitted data available for a product at a point in time, it may not be all the data available on a product. BIFSCo recognizes that multiple factors may impact a product’s usability in a given system and therefore suggests the company be contacted directly for additional research validation to determine if a product is applicable to a specific system.

At the time of evaluation of the submissions, the products listed in the library met the minimum requirements (listed below) established by BIFSCo. Listing in the library does not indicate endorsement.

Pre-Harvest Requirements for Evaluation (see link for full BIFSCo Executive Committee communication)

Callaway et al. 2013. Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) ecology in cattle and management based options for reducing fecal shedding. Agric. Food Anal. Bacteriol. 3:39-69
This peer-reviewed article addresses the ecology of STEC in cattle and the potential controls and interventions proposed or implemented to reduce STEC in cattle. The primary focus is on the use of management practices and the effects of diet and water management.

Current and near-market intervention strategies for reducing Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (STEC) shedding in cattle. Agric. Food Anal. Bacteriol. 3:103-120
This review article published in Agriculture, Food and Analytical Bacteriology focuses on recent research into the development of live-animal intervention strategies that can be applied to reduce the burden of STEC entering the food chain. Pre-harvest interventions must be designed and implemented as part of a multiple-hurdle approach to reduce pathogen entry into the food supply.

Beef Quality Assurance
Beef Quality Assurance is a national program that raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry.

Pre-Harvest References Archive


Best Practices for Beef Harvest
This document discusses food safety best practices for use throughout the slaughter operation. The use of best practices along with current science and technology allows slaughter operators to produce visibly clean carcasses and reduce the incidence level of pathogenic contamination.

Best Practices for Specified Risk Material Removal
The following document lists best practices that could improve process control and assure complete spinal cord removal.

Antimicrobial Interventions
These databases were developed to summarize available scientific literature to demonstrate efficacy of various interventions and/or antimicrobials at a range of applicable concentrations for fresh and processed meat and poultry. 

Further Processing

Best Practices for Pathogen Control during Tenderizing/Enhancing of Whole Muscle Cuts
The best practices outlined in this document can be implemented throughout the tenderizing or enhancing operation, as well as during cleaning and sanitizing operations, to reduce the likelihood that contamination with potential pathogens (specifically E. coli O157:H7) will occur. This document does not mandate the use of any specific system or technology, but rather, stresses the importance of validating that the tenderizing or enhancing system used is optimized to reduce the risk of contamination.

Guidance for Purchasers of Raw Beef for Non-Intact Use
This document is designed to assist purchasers of raw beef intended for grinding or other non-intact use in maximizing the food safety of the raw materials and finished products, as well as meeting Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) requirements.

Ground Beef

Best Practices for Raw Ground Products
Producers of raw ground products, including ground beef, recognize that these products have inherent food safety risks due to the nature of the process and the lack of a sufficient “kill” step for biological hazards within the process. Therefore, it is extremely important that grinders implement Best Practices to produce the safest products possible by increasing total process control throughout the grinding operation and in sourcing safe raw materials. This document provides guidelines for grinding operations and can be used by establishments to develop plant-specific programs.

Direct to Consumer

Best Practices for Direct to Consumer Sales

Preparers of food sold direct to consumer (D2C) must comply with the applicable federal, state, and/or local food safety laws and regulations involved in a particular food delivery model, and these may vary depending on the types of foods being produced and delivered. It is important that all segments of the food supply chain work together to ensure the safety of the finished products. This requires an understanding of potential food safety risks and controls needed throughout the system. The scope of this document is focused on food safety best practices.

Microbial Testing and Controls

Best Practices for Using Microbiological Sampling 
This document provides best practices applicable throughout the industry to help establishments develop appropriate procedures for using microbiological testing to verify process control.

Industry Best Practices for Holding Tested Products
This document describes effective practices to help establishments develop and implement the optimal system for testing and holding products to be used when conducting the testing and when government agencies take a sample.

Guidance for Allergen Control in Meat Establishments
This document, funded by the Beef Checkoff, provides guidance for processing facilities on the development and maintenance of robust allergen-control programs.

Sampling, Lotting and Sample Analysis Guidance
This document provides best industry practices for components (lotting, sampling and laboratory analysis) of the pathogen-testing program as a part of an overall food safety system. The effectiveness of these practices depends on the proper implementation of the best practices leading to these steps and after these steps.

Other Resources

Salmonella White Paper

Produced by the Beef Industry Food Safety Council, this is the first white paper to include all pre- and post-harvest work to reduce Salmonella, including the current status of control, and provide an update on the research investigating the plausible routes of Salmonella infection in cattle.

American Meat Science Association

  • Salmonella Overview  Salmonella is a gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria with a talent for adapting to its environment. This ability to grow or persist in many different conditions makes it particularly problematic as a foodborne pathogen.
  • Salmonella Pathogenicity  Pathogenicity is dependent on serotype genes which determine pathogenicity, dose (quantity) of bacterial cells and susceptibility of the host.
  • Salmonella Enumeration  Rapid, precise quantification methods are critical to determine if type (serotype) and amount (quantification) of bacteria create a public health risk.

 Foreign Material Control & Prevention Program 

The Foreign Material Manual is a comprehensive compilation of information for establishments to consider when designing a Foreign Material Control & Prevention Program (FMCPP), covering the entire process in three main sections: prevention, detection, and response.

Customer Complaints of Foreign Material in Meat and Poultry Products

This document, provided by the North American Meat Institute provides a method of receiving, investigating, and responding to foreign material complaints.

Food Safety Equipment Design Principles  English   Spanish  Checklist

Provided by the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education, equipment design is critical in reducing the risk of contamination of food products by pathogens and foreign material. The original Sanitary Equipment Design Task Force was charged with developing equipment sanitary design principles that meet the expectations of the meat and poultry industries. The task force also developed a checklist tool that equipment manufacturers and processors can use to assess equipment.