[Federal Register: June 18, 2004 (Volume 69, Number 117)]
[Notices]               
[Page 34119-34121]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr18jn04-52]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. 04-003N]

 
New Technology Website Contents

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice with request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service is requesting comments 
on the types of information that it intends to post on its Web site 
regarding the use of new technologies in the production of meat, 
poultry, and egg products. Specifically, FSIS intends to post 
information about new technologies that are under review, or that have 
been reviewed, by the Agency. The Agency seeks comments about the value 
of the information to the public and the costs and other detrimental 
effects to a company if this information is made publicly available. 
FSIS is publishing this notice as part of its ongoing effort to 
increase public and industry awareness of new technologies and to 
foster their use by small and very small plants.

[[Page 34120]]


DATES: The Agency must receive comments by July 19, 2004.

ADDRESSES: Comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
     Mail, including floppy disks or CD-ROM's, and hand-or 
courier-delivered items: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 300 12th Street, SW., 
Room 102 Cotton Annex, Washington, DC 20250.
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov.
 Follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments.

    All submissions received must include the Agency name and docket 
number 04-003N. All comments submitted will be available for public 
inspection in the FSIS Docket Room at the address listed above between 
8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. The comments also will 
be posted on the Agency's Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oppde/rdad/frdockets.htm.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information contact Bobby 
Palesano, Acting Director, New Technology Staff, Office of Policy and 
Program Development, FSIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 2932, 
South Agriculture Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, 
DC 20250-3700; telephone (202) 205-0675, fax (202) 205-0080.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    FSIS has a longstanding interest in technologies used in meat and 
poultry establishments and egg products plants. FSIS believes that the 
development and proper use of technology can contribute significantly 
to improving the safety of the food supply, especially with regard to 
reducing the threat posed by pathogenic microorganisms.
    On February 11, 2003, FSIS published a notice in the Federal 
Register titled ``FSIS Procedures for Notification of New Technology'' 
(68 FR 6873). This notice established new, flexible procedures to 
actively encourage the development and use of new technologies in meat 
and poultry establishments and egg products plants.
    Six months later, on August 12, 2003, Dr. Elsa Murano, Under 
Secretary for Food Safety, United States Department of Agriculture, 
announced the formation of the New Technology Staff (NTS). Located 
within FSIS, the NTS is charged with reviewing new technologies that 
companies intend to employ in the processing of meat, poultry, and egg 
products to ensure that the use of these technologies is consistent 
with Agency regulations, and that the technologies will not adversely 
affect product safety, inspection procedures, or the safety of FSIS 
inspectors.
    On February 19, 2004, FSIS posted on the FSIS website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oppde/op/technology/guidance.htm
 document titled ``Guidance Procedures for Notification and Protocol Submission of New 
Technology.'' This guidance document is intended to assist 
establishments in determining whether they need to notify FSIS of new 
technologies that they propose to use in meat and poultry 
establishments and egg products plants, and to provide guidance on when 
to submit protocols for in-plant testing of new technologies. These 
guidelines replaced the procedures specified in FSIS's February 11, 
2003, Federal Register notice.
    FSIS defines ``new technology'' as new, or new applications of, 
equipment, substances, methods, processes, or procedures affecting the 
slaughter of livestock and poultry or processing of meat, poultry, or 
egg products. Steam vacuums, steam pasteurization, and antimicrobials 
are all examples of advances in food safety technology that have 
occurred in recent years. New technologies have resulted in significant 
improvements in the safety of meat and poultry products in recent 
years.
    Because of its desire to share information and to encourage small 
and very small plants to utilize new technologies, FSIS is considering 
posting on its Web site information on new technologies that are the 
subject of notifications or protocols that the Agency has received. The 
summaries would provide brief descriptions of the new technology 
notifications or protocols from industry. The summaries would include 
the submitter's name, a brief description of the new technology, and 
the status of the submission.
    There are 5 status categories: (1) Pending (the notification is 
under review), (2) Objection Letter Issued (an aspect of the technology 
requires study), (3) Notification Information Inadequate (the 
notification does not include adequate information), (4) No Objection 
Letter Issued (the Agency has no objection to use of the new 
technology), and (5) Protocol Approved for In-plant Trial (the 
submitter will be studying an aspect of the use of the technology). The 
Agency intends to indicate the status of each pending submission.
    The following are examples of new technologies and how they may 
appear on the Web site:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                         Summary of the notification/
     Company name                  protocol                  Status
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XYZ..................  Direct application of a          No Objection
                        biological agent as an           Letter Issued.
                        antimicrobial in processing of
                        poultry.
YZX..................  Application of a chemical agent  Pending.
                        as an antimicrobial processing
                        aid on raw beef carcasses.
ZXY..................  Application of new substance as  Notification
                        an antimicrobial food additive   Information
                        on fully cooked product.         Inadequate.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The Agency recognizes, however, that a new technology notification 
or protocol may contain proprietary information. Therefore, the Agency 
requests comments on what information on new technologies it should 
make publicly available and on ways to protect proprietary information. 
For example, FSIS requests comments on the possibility that, if a 
submitter is concerned about the disclosure of proprietary information 
or a trade secret contained in the notification or protocol, the 
submitter could prepare and submit to FSIS both a confidential business 
information (CBI) version of the document and a public version. The CBI 
version would specify the information that the submitter considers to 
be proprietary or trade secret. If none of the information in the 
submission is proprietary or trade secret, and the submitter has no 
concerns about disclosing it, then only a public version of the 
document would need to be submitted to FSIS.
    FSIS is requesting comments on the information that it intends to 
post on its website regarding the submissions of new technologies. 
Specifically, the Agency is seeking comments on the value of this 
information and on the costs and other detrimental effects to a company 
if this information is made publicly available. FSIS will not begin to 
regularly post information about new notifications and protocols until 
after the comment period has ended, and it has evaluated and responded 
to all comments received.

Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to ensure that the
public and in particular minorities, women, and persons with disabilities, 
are aware of this notice, FSIS will announce it on-
line through the FSIS web page located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

    The Regulations.gov website is the central online rulemaking portal 
of the United States government. It is being offered as a public 
service to increase participation in the Federal government's 
regulatory activities. FSIS participates in Regulations.gov and will 
accept comments on documents published on the site. The site allows 
visitors to search by keyword or Department or Agency for rulemakings 
that allow for public comment. Each entry provides a quick link to a 
comment form so that visitors can type in their comments and submit 
them to FSIS. The website is located at http://www.regulations.gov.

    FSIS also will make copies of this Federal Register publication 
available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, recalls, and other types of 
information that could affect or would be of interest to our 
constituents and stakeholders. The update is communicated via Listserv, 
a free e-mail subscription service consisting of industry, trade, and 
farm groups, consumer interest groups, allied health professionals, 
scientific professionals, and other individuals who have requested to 
be included. The update also is available on the FSIS web page. Through 
Listserv and the web page, FSIS is able to provide information to a 
much broader, more diverse audience.

    Done at Washington, DC, on June 15, 2004.
Barbara Masters,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 04-13863 Filed 6-17-04; 8:45 am]