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for Volume 4, Number 9, available in full-color
Want To Tap Into the Growing Farmers Market Sector?
By Janet McGinn
Are you a small or very small plant meat and poultry operator who would just love to tap into the growing demand for local products
available at farmers markets? Did you know that in 2011, the number of operational farmers markets grew from 6,132 to 7,175, an
increase of 17 percent?
Farmers markets are a vital part of the urban/farm linkage and have continued to rise in popularity. This
article highlights some of the resources available to assist you in selling your products at farmers markets.
Your first step might be to see if there is there is a farmers market in your area. You can find out by
searching the USDA National Farmers Market Directory at www.farmersmarkets.usda.gov.
Farmers markets can be searched by State, county, city, Zip Code, and participation in Federal nutrition
assistance programs. While you might think that farmers markets only operate while fresh produce is in season,
winter farmers markets (November - March) operate in 47 States and the District of Columbia.
The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) is the agency primarily responsible for programs to support farmers markets.
Among other things, AMS' Marketing Services Division administers the Farmers Market Promotion Program
(FMPP), a grant program initiated in 2006 that supports outreach and marketing opportunities for farmers
markets. Grants are awarded on a competitive basis following comprehensive review. The FMPP offered $10 million in grants in FY
2011. To find out more about the FMPP, go to www.ams.usda.gov/FMPP.
Other services AMS provides to farmers market stakeholders include technical assistance in market
facility development, outreach, and organizational support, including the Farmers Market Consortium, a public/private
sector partnership dedicated to supporting the farmers market industry by sharing and publicizing information
about available sources of funding and technical resources.
The growth of farmers markets and the economic, social, and health benefits they provide support USDA's
Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food
initiative, a USDA-wide effort to create new economic opportunities by better connecting consumers with
local producers. It is also intended to promote a national conversation on why it's important for people to know
where their food comes from and how it gets to their plate.
For more information on the many resources available from AMS to support farmers markets, go to
or contact Debra Tropp, Chief of the AMS' Farmers Market and Direct Marketing Research Branch at (202) 720-8326 or
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Looking Into FSIS' Routine Listeria monocytogenes Risk-Based Sampling Program: What This Means for You
In an effort to reduce public health risks, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has implemented
a testing program to verify your compliance with 9 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 430, which addresses
the control of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in post-lethality exposed ready-to-eat (RTE) products. Under the Routine
Listeria monocytogenes Risk-Based Sampling Program (RLm), an FSIS team collects a sample of your RTE
products, product-contact surfaces, and environmental surfaces for testing. In addition, a comprehensive Food
Safety Assessment would be conducted in conjunction with the RLm sampling.
FSIS selects establishments for testing based on risks associated with the type of product and control measures
used by the establishment. Once the RLm sampling has been conducted in your establishment, you normally won't be
eligible for scheduling again for a 24-month period, provided that the sample result is negative, of course.
Let's say you've been notified that your plant has been selected for sampling. Here are some helpful pointers to
guide you through the sampling process:
- FSIS highly recommends that you hold all products represented by the sample until confirmed test results are received.
- The sampling team will secure product samples and ship them to the laboratory after the establishment has
completed all interventions, except for any intervention based on microbiological test results. FSIS will not wait
for the establishment to receive those microbiological test results before sending the sample to the laboratory. In
many cases, FSIS samples will be collected and submitted to the laboratory before the establishment completes pre-shipment review.
This represents a change in policy that occurred with the issuance of FSIS Directive 10,240.4, Revision 2, on February 3, 2009.
- When FSIS takes a sample for testing, you can also take a sample and send it for testing to a certified laboratory
at the same time. FSIS expects your establishment to take action any time there is a positive result, whether the
result came from the agency's sample or your sample.
- It's your responsibility to determine the amount of product represented by the sample. You should consider
the following factors:
- Your establishment's coding of product;
- Pathogens of concern;
- Processing and packing procedures;
- Equipment used;
- Same source;
- Your plant's Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan, including all monitoring, verification, corrective actions, and testing procedures;
- Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures records; and
- Whether some or all of the affected products are controlled by a different HACCP plan.
- Most negative results are obtained within 3 days. Confirmed positive results may take up to 8 days. The
district office will provide presumptive Lm positive results to you. For results of future analysis, you can
receive results by email. (Contact your district office for a copy of FSIS Form 10,230-2.)
- If a test result is positive and you did not hold, but elected to distribute, the product, FSIS will request that you
conduct a recall in a timely fashion—usually the same day—at your expense. FSIS Directive 8080.1, Revision
5, Amendment 3, provides details of the recall procedure. However, you should take every precaution to avoid a
recall to protect public health and maintain consumers' confidence in your business.
- When an RTE product sample or post-lethality-exposed RTE food contact surface sample tests positive for Lm, an
FSIS team will evaluate the results based on your control measures and will initiate the appropriate enforcement
action, if warranted. In response to any non-compliance, FSIS expects you to bring your plant into compliance
with all applicable regulations. After the implementation of any corrective action that is necessary to bring your
plant into compliance, the in-plant inspection team will verify your corrective actions, including disposition of the product.
As always, you should fully cooperate with FSIS inspectors during Agency testing by making your establishment's test results
and other supporting documents readily available.
FSIS recognizes the real-world scenarios that are unique to your situation as owners, operators, and managers of
small and very small plants. Dealing with public health, consumer confidence, and economic issues can be very
challenging as you make your business decisions. As a public health regulatory agency, FSIS will continue to encourage
all establishments to adopt practices that will prevent adulterated products from entering commerce.
For your convenience, the link to the "Industry Best Practices for Holding Tested Products" is available at
To receive a copy of the guidelines or to provide comments, questions, or feedback on FSIS' Routine Listeria
monocytogenes Risk-Based Sampling Program, contact FSIS' Policy Development Division at (800) 233-3935.
A printed copy of the guidelines can be ordered through FSIS' Web site at
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Avoiding Noncompliance Records: Originating From Record Authenticity Requirements
By Commander Jeff Tarrant, U.S. Public Health Service
In previous issues of Small Plant News, we addressed some common noncompliance records (NR) originating
from supporting documentation requirements. We'd like to add to that by focusing this time on common NRs
stemming from record authenticity requirements.
According to 9 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 417.5(b), "each entry on a record maintained under the
[establishment's] Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan shall be made at the time the specific
event occurs and include the date and time recorded, and shall be signed or initialed by the establishment employee
making the entry."
FSIS inspectors are trained to review your plant's documentation records related to your HACCP plan. To help
you understand the inspectors' thought processes better when reviewing your documentation, we've provided the
following questions they ask themselves when gathering information on record authenticity requirements.
- Was each entry on the record made at the time the event occurred?
- Does each entry include the time?
- Was each entry on the record signed or initialed by the plant employee who made the entry?
- Does each record include the date?
The inspectors will then assess the information and determine compliance. If, after gathering and assessing
information pertaining to the HACCP record authenticity requirement, the inspector finds that your plant has met
all regulatory requirements, then there is regulatory compliance. If the inspector finds that you have not met all
regulatory requirements, there is noncompliance.
To understand 9 CFR 417.5(b) better, let's use the following example. The Better Meat Company's (fictitious
company for this scenario) HACCP plan has a monitoring procedure for checking temperatures of incoming
trimmings by checking two combos from each truck with a long-stem thermometer. The FSIS inspector requests
the company's HACCP records and finds the following incoming trimmings log. The inspector starts gathering
information by asking himself or herself the previously listed questions while reviewing the following log.
|Incoming Trimmings Log
||Critical limit = 38 ºF or lower
After reviewing the incoming trimmings log, the inspector notices that the last entry (truck #8526)
does not contain the time the event occurred or the temperature. In addition, it does not include
the signature or initials of the person performing the activity. Therefore, the inspector determines
that there is recordkeeping noncompliance and an NR is generated.
This is just one example, but by familiarizing yourself with the regulations that affect your plant,
you can ensure that your facility remains in compliance.
For more information on noncompliance records, visit FSIS' Web site at www.fsis.usda.gov or
contact the Program and Policy Development Division at (800) 233-3935 or (402) 344-5000.
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Commonly Asked Questions & Answers
Q. Do pest control programs have to be written documents?
A. No. Pest control programs addressed in 9 CFR 416.2(a) are not required by regulation
to be written programs. However, they must be implemented and maintained to prevent
or eliminate pest harborage and breeding within the limits of the official premises. Although such
programs are not required to be written, a written program is beneficial to the establishment because it
describes what actions are to be taken, when the actions are to be taken, and what is done to provide evidence
that the actions were taken. A prudent establishment would focus on documenting as many aspects of its
operation to demonstrate that its overall food safety system is working properly.
Q. Can more than one of the official inspection
legends (i.e., meat legend, poultry legend, or exotic animal legend) be printed on the same product container?
A. Yes. A container of product intended for distribution to other than the retail trade may
bear one or more official inspection legends. A container of product intended for sale to
household consumers may only bear one official mark of inspection.
Many official establishments operate under Federal Grants of Inspection for meat products, poultry products,
and exotic animal products. Considerable economic savings can be realized by these establishments when
certain containers can be utilized for multiple types of inspected/passed products.
Note: A "container" is either (a) a shipping container that holds fully labeled immediate containers or (b)
a shipping container that doubles as an immediate container. In either situation, the shipping containers
are not meant for retail sale. Processors can print up to three inspection legends on one container and use
it for either meat, poultry, exotic animal products, or a mixture thereof. The container is required to contain
inspected product. The establishment using the tri-legend cartons must have a Grant of Inspection that
allows production of all three types of product. All legends must be removed from the container if it is used
for non-inspected product, for example, tomato sauce or vegetables.
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Small Plant NEWS
Editor: Keith Payne
Managing Editor: Jane Johnson, DVM
Production: Joan Lindenberger, Sally Fernandez
Design: Gordon Wilson, Duane Robinson
Contact: Small Plant News, USDA/FSIS, Patriots Plaza III, Rm. 9-267A, Mailstop 3778,
1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250