[Federal Register: July 5, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 128)]
[Notices]               
[Page 38130-38132]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr05jy06-31]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. FSIS-2006-0008]

 
Retail and Home Food Handling and Preparation Behaviors That May 
Lead to Cross-Contamination by Bacterial Pathogens of Foods That Are 
Not Likely To Undergo Cooking or Additional Cooking

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of request for information.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is requesting 
information on studies related to cross-contamination by bacterial 
foodborne pathogens of foods that are not likely to undergo cooking or 
additional cooking in food handling and preparation. Specifically, FSIS 
is interested in quantitative data obtained by observation of retail 
(commercial and institutional settings) and home food handlers. FSIS 
requests information on the types of food handling and preparation 
behaviors that could lead to the transfer of bacteria from products of 
animal origin to foods that are not likely to undergo cooking or 
additional cooking (e.g., salad components and ready-to-eat foods), as 
well as information on the frequency at which these behaviors occur. 
Information submitted in response to this Request for Information may 
be used in risk assessment modeling to estimate the public health 
impact of the presence of various bacterial foodborne pathogens in 
meat, poultry, and egg products.

DATES: Submissions must be received on or before September 3, 2006.

ADDRESSES: You may submit information by any of the following methods:
     Mail, including floppy disks or CD-ROM's, and hand-or 
courier-delivered items: Send to Neal J. Golden, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Office of Public

[[Page 38131]]

Health Science, Risk Assessment Division, 1400 Independence Avenue, 
SW., Room 374, Aerospace Center, Washington, DC 20250-3700.
     Electronic mail: neal.golden@fsis.usda.gov.
     Facsimile: Neal Golden at (202) 690-6337.
    All submissions must include the Agency name and docket number 
FSIS-2006-0008.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Neal Golden, Office of Public Health 
Science, Food Safety and Inspection Service; Telephone: (202) 690-6419, 
Electronic mail: neal.golden@fsis.usda.gov. Please note that the 
telephone and facsimile numbers are not toll free numbers. Office hours 
are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.s.t., Monday through Friday, except 
Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

A. Purpose

    The Risk Assessment Division of FSIS' Office of Public Health 
Science develops and performs risk assessments of bacterial pathogens 
in meat, poultry, eggs and egg products to inform the Agency's policy 
development activities. These risk assessments are used to evaluate 
intervention strategies to reduce foodborne risks and to guide, 
support, and enhance the Agency's overall decision-making process, 
risk-management policies, outreach efforts, data collection 
initiatives, and research priorities.
    The purpose of this notice is to encourage the submission of 
quantitative data or information on studies of retail and home food 
preparation behavior that could lead to cross-contamination of foods 
that are not likely to undergo cooking or additional cooking after the 
contamination occurs. In particular, quantitative information obtained 
through observation of retail and home food handlers is needed.
    FSIS will review the information submitted in response to this 
Request for Information for use in the development of risk assessment 
models. This Request for Information does not pertain to a particular 
regulatory initiative or rule-making proposal but is rather a method to 
identify information to inform Agency risk assessments.

B. Background

    Cross-contamination of foods by bacterial foodborne pathogens 
occurs at retail establishments and in the home and is thought to be a 
significant contributing factor for foodborne illness in the U.S. 
Improper handling of raw products of animal origin can result in the 
contamination of salad components and other foods that are typically 
consumed without further cooking.
    Data are needed to inform risk assessments to assess the consumer 
risk from foods that have been cross-contaminated. The exposure 
assessment component of a risk assessment estimates the likelihood of 
exposure to a microbial pathogen and the number of organisms likely to 
be consumed. To develop an accurate assessment of exposure, it is 
necessary to consider the major exposure pathways. However, there is a 
lack of quantitative data to evaluate the impact of cross-contamination 
on consumer exposure to foodborne pathogens.
    To better understand the impact of retail and home cross-
contamination on public health, information is needed on the following 
two topics: (1) Food handling behaviors and their frequency and (2) 
transfer rate of bacterial foodborne pathogens.

1. Food Handling Behaviors and Frequency

    To incorporate cross-contamination exposure pathways into risk 
assessment modeling, we need to know the types of food preparation and 
handling behaviors used at retail and in the home. We also need to know 
the frequency at which these behaviors are exhibited.
    Most information available on retail and home food handling is 
based upon self-reported surveys, obtained by the use of 
questionnaires, interviews, and focus groups. However, data obtained in 
this manner may not be a true reflection of actual practices because of 
reporting bias. Though this type of survey data can be useful, it is 
not preferable.
    Direct observation of food preparation behaviors is required to 
understand more fully cross-contamination exposure pathways. 
Observational data can be obtained by different means; video taping, 
observation by closed circuit viewing, and direct observation (being 
present in the food preparation location) have been used. Observational 
techniques can produce quantitative data and are less biased than self-
reporting. As a result, quantitative observational data are favored for 
risk assessment modeling purposes.

2. Transfer Rate of Bacterial Foodborne Pathogens

    To understand the transfer of bacterial pathogens in kitchens, 
information on the likelihood of transfer to different components 
within this environment is needed. Researchers have investigated 
bacterial transfer rates; however, these studies have used a limited 
number of contamination sources and a limited range of bacteria. For 
example, studies that use raw products purchased at retail to examine 
the transfer of pathogens present on that product would be more 
representative than studies that add bacteria and then study the 
transfer rate. Information on the distribution of transfer rates of E. 
coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria from meat, 
poultry, and egg products during food handling and preparation 
behaviors would be useful to model retail and domestic cross-
contamination.
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_&_policies/2006_Notices_Index/index.asp
.

    The Regulations.gov Web site 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.
    In addition, FSIS offers an e-mail subscription service which 
provides automatic and customized access to

[[Page 38132]]

selected food safety news and information. This service is available at 
http://www.fsis.usda.gov/news_and_events/email_subscription/. 

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.

C. Disclaimer

    This Request for Information should not be construed as a 
commitment by the Agency to enter into any agreement with any entity 
submitting response(s).

    Done in Washington, DC, June 28, 2006.
Barbara J. Masters,
Administrator.
 [FR Doc. E6-10418 Filed 7-3-06; 8:45 am]

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