[Federal Register: February 6, 2003 (Volume 68, Number 25)]
[Notices]               
[Page 6109-6110]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr06fe03-15]                         
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[[Page 6109]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE


Food Safety and Inspection Service


[Docket No. 03-005N]


 
Listeria Risk Assessment Technical Meeting--Notice of 
Availability and Public Meeting


AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.


ACTION: Notice of availability and announcement of public meeting.


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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing 
the availability of, and requesting public comment on, its draft risk 
assessment for Listeria in deli- and hot dog-type meat and poultry 
products that are exposed to the environment post-lethality. FSIS 
conducted this risk assessment, addressing both Listeria monocytogenes 
and Listeria species (spp), to examine the effectiveness of testing 
food contact surfaces and sanitation on product contamination and the 
subsequent risk of illness, and to evaluate the effectiveness of other 
interventions (e.g., post-processing interventions). In addition, the 
frequency of testing food contact surfaces, as proposed in the proposed 
rule on Performance Standards for the Production of Processed Meat and 
Poultry Products, was specifically addressed.
    FSIS also is holding a public meeting to discuss the technical 
design and assumptions that were used to create this draft risk 
assessment.


DATES: The public meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, February 26, 
2003. The meeting will be held from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The draft risk 
assessment will be available in the FSIS docket room (address below) 
and will be posted to the FSIS Web site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fsis.usda.gov on 
or before February 14, 2003.
    Submit written comments on the draft risk assessment on or before 
February 21, 2003.


ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at the Washington Plaza 
Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle, Washington, DC 20005. Telephone: (202) 842-
1300.
    A tentative agenda is available in the FSIS docket room (address 
below) and on the FSIS Web site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/Notices02.htm
    Please send written comments on the draft risk assessment to the 
FSIS Docket Room, Docket 03-005N, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food 
Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102 Cotton Annex, 300 12th Street, 
SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700. All comments and the official 
transcript of the meeting, when they become available, will be 
available for viewing in the FSIS docket room.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Moshe Dreyfuss at (202) 205-0260. 
Registration for the meeting will be on-site. No pre-registration will 
be accepted. Persons requiring a sign language interpreter should 
notify Ms. Sheila Johnson by February 12, 2003 at (202) 690-6498. 
Notify Ms. Johnson as soon as possible if other special accommodations 
are required.


SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 


Background


    FSIS administers the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry 
Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act. The 
Agency's activities are intended to prevent the distribution in 
domestic and foreign commerce, as human food, of unwholesome, 
adulterated, or misbranded meat, poultry, and egg products, including 
products that may transmit diseases or that may be otherwise injurious 
to health.
    On February 27, 2001, (66 FR 12589) FSIS issued proposed 
regulations to require that each establishment that produces ready-to-
eat meat and poultry products test food contact surfaces for Listeria 
spp., in order to verify the efficacy of its sanitation standard 
operating procedures, unless it has incorporated one or more controls 
for Listeria monocytogenes into its HACCP plan. Under the proposed 
regulations, food contact surface positives for Listeria would trigger 
mandatory product testing. In November 2002, FSIS issued a directive 
outlining additional steps to be taken by U.S. Department of 
Agriculture inspectors to ensure that establishments producing ready-
to-eat meat and poultry products are taking the necessary steps to 
prevent contamination with Listeria.
    FSIS has recently completed an extensive, scientific risk 
assessment on Listeria to determine how the pathogen may contaminate 
meat and poultry products during production and packaging processes. 
The draft risk assessment will provide important additional data that 
the Agency will use in developing a final regulation concerning the 
reduction and control of Listeria in processing plants producing ready-
to-eat products, and a new directive to replace Directive 10,240.3 
(Microbial Sampling of Ready To Eat Products for the FSIS Verification 
Testing Program), if appropriate, as a consequence of the final rule.
    FSIS requests comment on this draft risk assessment and will hold a 
public meeting to discuss and seek input on it on February 26, 2003, at 
the Washington Plaza Hotel (See ADDRESSES above).


Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to better ensure 
that minorities, women, and persons with disabilities are aware of this 
notice, FSIS will announce it and make copies of this Federal Register 
publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update. FSIS 
provides a weekly Constituent Update, which is communicated via 
Listserv, a free e-mail subscription service. In addition, the update 
is available on-line through the FSIS web page located at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/update/update.htm.
 The update is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, recalls, and any other types of 
information that could affect or would be of interest to our 
constituents/stakeholders. The constituent Listserv consists of 
industry, trade, and farm groups, consumer interest groups, allied 
health professionals, scientific professionals, and other individuals 
that have requested to be included. Through the Listserv and web page, 
FSIS is able to provide information to a much broader, more diverse 
audience.


[[Page 6110]]


    For more information, contact the Congressional and Public Affairs 
Office, at (202) 720-9113. To be added to the free e-mail subscription 
service (Listserv) go to the ``Constituent Update'' page on the FSIS 
Web site at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/leaving.cgi?from=leavingFR.html&log=linklog&to=http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/update/update.htm. Click on the 
``Subscribe to the Constituent Update Listserv'' link, then fill out 
and submit the form.


    Done at Washington, DC, on: January 31, 2003.
Linda M. Swacina,
Associate Administrator.
[FR Doc. 03-2942 Filed 2-5-03; 8:45 am]