[Federal Register: October 19, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 201)]
[Notices]               
[Page 60784-60786]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr19oc05-27]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. 05-014N]

 
New Technology Web Site Contents; Response to Comments

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing 
the availability on its Web site of information regarding new 
technologies for use in the production of meat, poultry, and egg 
products that the Agency has received and for which FSIS has written a 
``No Objection'' letter. The Web site will include brief descriptions 
of the new technologies. The availability of this information should 
increase public and industry awareness of new technologies and foster 
their use by small and very small plants.

DATES: This notice is effective November 18, 2005.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Shaukat H. Syed, D.V.M., Director, New 
Technology Staff, Office of Policy, Program, and Employee Development, 
FSIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 2932, South Agriculture 
Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700; 
telephone (202) 205-0675, facsimile (202) 205-0080.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FSIS has a longstanding interest in 
technologies used in livestock and poultry slaughter and in meat and 
poultry and egg product processing establishments. The development and 
proper use of technology can contribute significantly to improvements 
in the safety of the food supply, especially with regard to reducing 
threats posed by pathogenic microorganisms.
    FSIS defines the term ``new technology'' as new, or new 
applications of, equipment, substances, methods, processes, or 
procedures

[[Page 60785]]

affecting the slaughter of livestock and poultry or processing of meat, 
poultry, or egg products. New technologies have resulted in significant 
improvements in the food safety of meat and poultry products in recent 
years.
    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 
encourage the development and use of new technologies in livestock and 
poultry slaughter establishments and in meat, poultry, and egg product 
processing establishments.
    On August 12, 2003, the Under Secretary for Food Safety announced 
the formation of the New Technology Staff (NTS). Located within FSIS, 
the NTS is charged with reviewing new technologies that companies 
intend to use in the slaughter of livestock and poultry and in the 
processing of meat, poultry, and egg products. Review by the NTS is 
intended to ensure that the use of new technologies is consistent with 
Agency regulations, and that the technologies will not adversely affect 
product safety, inspection procedures, or the safety of FSIS inspection 
program personnel.
    On February 19, 2004, FSIS posted on its Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/
 regulations--&-- policies/ New-- 

TechnologyNotification &ProtocolSubmission// index./ asp a document 
titled ``Guidance Procedures for Notification and Protocol Submission 
of New Technology.'' This guidance document was intended to assist 
establishments in determining whether they need to notify FSIS of new 
technologies that they propose to use in livestock and poultry 
slaughter and in meat, poultry, and egg product processing 
establishments. This document also was intended to provide guidance on 
when establishments need to submit protocols for in-plant testing of 
new technologies. This guidance document replaced the procedures 
outlined in FSIS' Federal Register notice of February 11, 2003 (68 FR 
6873).
    On April 14, 2005, FSIS posted on its Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/New_Technologies/

index.asp a document titled ``Guidance on Requesting a Waiver of Food 
Safety and Inspection Service Regulatory Requirements for the Use of 
New Technology.'' This guidance on requesting a waiver informs meat and 
poultry slaughter and processing, egg product establishments, and other 
interested persons of the procedure for obtaining a regulatory waiver 
for a limited period of time to test their new technology.
    On April 14, 2005, FSIS also posted on its Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/
 regulations--&--policies/ New--Technologies/

index.asp a document titled ``Standard Operating Procedures for 
Notification and Protocol Submission of New Technologies.'' This 
document specifies the standard operating procedures (SOPs) of the 
FSIS' NTS when an official meat and poultry (slaughter or processing), 
egg product establishment, or company that manufactures technology for 
use in official establishments submits a notification to the Agency of 
its intent to use a new technology or submits a protocol to the Agency 
for an in-plant trial of a new technology.
    In an effort to encourage small and very small plants to use new 
technologies to achieve advances in food safety and in response to 
comments received at a public meeting on January 13, 2004, FSIS issued 
a Federal Register notice on June 18, 2004, announcing ``New Technology 
Web Site Contents'' and its intention to post on its Web site 
information regarding the use of new technologies in the production of 
meat, poultry, and egg products (69 FR 34119). The notice asked for 
comments on the value of the information to the public and the 
detrimental effects to a company if this information were made publicly 
available. Specifically, FSIS proposed posting on its Web site 
summaries of information about new technologies received by FSIS that 
are the subject of notifications. The summaries would provide brief 
descriptions of the new technologies that are the subjects of the 
notifications and protocols received from industry and would include 
the name of the submitter.
    Access to this new technologies Web site would be especially 
valuable to small and very small establishments, which often have only 
small or no research budgets or other resources for exploring 
technologies that could enhance their operating procedures; make them 
more effective and efficient; increase food safety; and increase the 
establishment's security. The new technologies Web site will provide 
all establishments, but especially small and very small plants, with a 
cost effective way of learning what new technologies the Agency has 
received and with respect to whose use FSIS has written a ``No 
Objection'' letter. Having access to this information would allow 
establishments to be aware of, in a cost effective and timely manner, 
which new technologies may be appropriate for use in their facilities.
    In response to the notice, FSIS received two comments. After 
reviewing these comments, FSIS has decided to post on its Web site 
summary information about the new technologies that the Agency has 
reviewed and for which it has issued a ``No Objection'' letter.

Comments and Responses

    Comment: One commenter stated that FSIS should not disclose 
technical information pertaining to the new technology but should post 
only the project name, submitter's name, and the ``No Objection'' 
letter date. The commenter stated that investment in the development of 
a new technology may exceed several hundred thousand dollars, and that 
this development work and investment should be protected. The commenter 
was concerned about disclosure of technical information. The commenter 
also stated that it is not the role of FSIS to be concerned about 
sharing new technologies developed by a company with other companies 
within the industry.
    Response: FSIS understands and appreciates the amount of time and 
money needed to develop a new technology and to submit a notification 
or a protocol to FSIS. FSIS also understands and appreciates an 
establishment's concern about disclosure of technical information. FSIS 
believes, however, that sharing brief summary information on its Web 
site will not reveal any proprietary information but will promote 
industry awareness of technical innovations and encourage adoption of 
new ideas. Food safety is the mission of FSIS, and continued 
improvements in food safety will be achieved through the development 
and use of new technologies.
    Comment: The second commenter was opposed to the posting of any 
information about new technologies under review by FSIS that are 
intended to be used in the manufacture of meat, poultry, and egg 
products. The commenter stated that the information contained in the 
notifications and protocols is proprietary.
    Response: FSIS recognizes that a notification or protocol of a new 
technology may contain proprietary information. To protect this 
proprietary information from disclosure, FSIS intends to provide only a 
brief description of the new technology on the Web site and to post 
that description only after the Agency's review is complete. If a 
submitter is concerned about the disclosure of proprietary

[[Page 60786]]

information or a trade secret, the submitter may provide a brief 
description of the new technology for posting on the Web site.
    The FSIS New Technology Web site will contain a listing of new 
technologies for which the Agency, after review, has issued a ``No 
Objection'' letter, which states that the Agency does not object to the 
use of the new technology. The Web site listing will provide the name 
of the company and a brief summary of the new technology, either 
provided by the submitting company or prepared by the Agency based on 
data provided by the submitter. The Web site listing will be updated on 
a weekly basis, and new technologies posted will remain on the Web site 
for a period of twelve months.
    Once the Agency determines that it has no objection to the use of a 
proposed new technology, it sends the submitting company a ``No 
Objection'' letter. The letter will include the description of the new 
technology that the Agency intends to post to the Web site. The letter 
will state that, if the company does not object within five (5) working 
days from the date it receives the letter, the Agency will post the 
included description of the technology on the Web site. If the company 
objects to the description, it should state that it objects to the 
description, explain the basis for its objection (e.g., proprietary 
agreement, confidential commercial information, etc.), and provide an 
alternate description. FSIS will post the alternate description, unless 
the Agency concludes that the description does not fairly describe the 
technology. In such a case, FSIS will post the description that it 
prepared. FSIS will notify the company of its decision.

Paperwork Reduction Act Requirements

    FSIS has reviewed the paperwork and recordkeeping requirements in 
this notice in accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act (44 U.S.C. 
3501-3520). FSIS has previously received approval from the Office of 
Management and Budget, under control number 0583-0127, to collect the 
information discussed in this notice. No new paperwork or recordkeeping 
requirements are being imposed on the industry as a result of this 
notice.

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/regulations/2005_Notices_Index/.
 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 new 
technology 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 new technology update is also 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. In addition, FSIS offers an 
e-mail subscription service which provides an automatic and customized 
notification when popular pages are updated, including Federal Register 
publications and related documents. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/news_and_events/email_subscription/
 and allows 

FSIS customers to sign up for subscription options across eight 
categories. Options range from recalls to export information to 
regulations, directives and notices. Customers can add or delete 
subscriptions themselves and have the option to password protect their 
account.

    Done at Washington, DC on October 14, 2005.
Barbara J. Masters,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 05-20908 Filed 10-18-05; 8:45 am]

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