[Federal Register: June 1, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 104)]
[Notices]               
[Page 31414-31415]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr01jn05-30]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. 05-017N]

 
Availability of Question and Answer Documents

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service.

ACTION: Notice of availability.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service is announcing the 
availability of two question and answer (Q&A) documents concerning FSIS 
Directives 5000.2 (``Review of Establishment Data by Inspection Program 
Personnel''), 6420.2 (``Verification of Procedures for controlling 
Fecal Material, Ingesta, and Milk in Slaughter Operations''), and 
10,010.1, Revision 1 (``Microbiological Testing Program and Other 
Verification Activities for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Raw Ground Beef 
Products and Raw Ground Beef Components and Beef Patty Components'') 
(see ADDRESSES). The Agency is announcing the availability of these 
documents now because they contain information about Escherichia coli 
(E. coli) O157:H7, which is particularly relevant at this time because 
the United States is in the seasonal period when the prevalence of E. 
coli O157:H7 may be higher than during other times of the year.

ADDRESSES: The Q&A documents are available in Room 102, Cotton Annex, 
300 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700, between 8:30 a.m. and 
4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. They are also available on the 
Internet at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/fsisdirectives/10010_1/Ecoli_QA.pdf and http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/fsisdirectives/10010_1/Directives_Q&A.pdf.


FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachel Edelstein, Regulations and 
Petitions Policy Staff, Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. 
Department of Agriculture (202) 720-5627.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Significance of E. Coli O157:H7 and FSIS' Actions To Address the 
Pathogen

    Exposure to E. coli O157:H7 has been linked to serious, life-
threatening human illnesses (hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic 
syndrome). In the United States, outbreaks of human illnesses caused by 
foodborne E. coli O157:H7 infection have often been linked to ground 
beef.
    FSIS administers a regulatory program under the Federal Meat 
Inspection Act (FMIA) (21 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) to protect the health and 
welfare of consumers by preventing the distribution of meat products 
that are unwholesome, adulterated, or misbranded.
    In 1994, FSIS notified the public that raw ground beef products 
contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 are adulterated within the meaning of 
the FMIA (21 U.S.C. 601(m)(1)), unless the ground beef is further 
processed to destroy this pathogen. On January 19, 1999, FSIS published 
a policy statement in the Federal Register that explained that, if non-
intact beef products (e.g., beef that has been mechanically tenderized 
by needling or cubing) or intact cuts of muscle that are to be further 
processed into non-intact product prior to distribution for consumption 
are found to be contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, they must be 
processed into ready-to-eat product, or they would be deemed to be 
adulterated (64 FR 2803).
    In the October 7, 2002, Federal Register, FSIS informed the public 
that E. coli O157:H7 prevalence may be higher in April through 
September than during other times of the year, based on several studies 
and establishment testing data (67 FR 62332).

Availability of Qs&As

    FSIS is making available two documents that include Qs&As 
concerning FSIS Directives 5000.2, 6420.2, and 10,010.1, Revision 1. 
The Qs&As address concerns that were raised by interested parties at 
public meetings conducted by FSIS in 2004. At those meetings, FSIS 
presented information on these directives to the public, particularly 
small and very small plants. The Qs&As regarding Directive 10,010.1, 
Revision 1, provide information on establishment verification testing 
for E. coli O157:H7, establishment controls for E. coli O157:H7, and 
establishment responsibilities in the event that the establishment 
finds raw beef product positive for the pathogen or positive in a 
screening test for the pathogen.
    The information concerning E. coli O157:H7 is particularly relevant 
at this time because the United States is in the seasonal period when 
the prevalence of this pathogen may be higher than during other times 
of the year. Based on information from the Qs&As, establishments may 
decide to take actions to improve their E. coli O157:H7 verification 
testing programs or their controls to address the pathogen.

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/index.asp
.

    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

[[Page 31415]]

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.
    In addition, FSIS offers an email 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 May 25, 2005.
Barbara J. Masters,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 05-10790 Filed 5-31-05; 8:45 am]