[Federal Register: April 3, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 65)]
[Notices]               
[Page 18257-18258]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr03ap08-32]                         

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Notices
                                                Federal Register
________________________________________________________________________

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains documents other than rules 
or proposed rules that are applicable to the public. Notices of hearings 
and investigations, committee meetings, agency decisions and rulings, 
delegations of authority, filing of petitions and applications and agency 
statements of organization and functions are examples of documents 
appearing in this section.

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[[Page 18257]]



DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. FSIS-2008-0011]

 
Shiga Toxin-Producing E. coli Public Meeting

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of public meeting.

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SUMMARY: This notice is announcing that the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture's (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will 
sponsor a public meeting on April 9-10, 2008. The purpose of the 
meeting is to have a discussion with stakeholders on recent spikes in 
recalls and illnesses related to Escherichia coli (E. coli) O157:H7, 
provide updates on FSIS initiatives related to E. coli O157:H7, review 
perspectives, research progress, and build a foundation for 
establishing solutions to address the challenges this pathogen causes.

DATES: The public meeting will be held on Wednesday, April 9, 2008, 8 
a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursday, April 10, 2008, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Holiday Inn Georgetown, 2101 
Wisconsin Avenue, NW., Washington, DC 20007, Phone: (202) 338-3120, Web 
site: http://www.higeorgetown.com.
    Any changes to meeting dates, times, location, and agenda will be 
posted on the FSIS Web site and announced in the Agency's Constituent 
Update.

Registration

    Pre-registration for this meeting is encouraged. To pre-register to 
attend in person or via teleconference, access the FSIS Web site, 
http://www.fsis.usda.gov. Contact Sheila Johnson for more information 
on logistics at (202) 690-6498 or via e-mail at 
Sheila.johnson@fsis.usda.gov.
    All documents related to the meeting will be available for public 
inspection in the FSIS Docket Room, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 
2534 South Building, Washington, DC 20250, between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 
p.m., Monday through Friday, as soon as they become available.
    FSIS will finalize an agenda on or before the meeting date and post 
it and the documents related to the public meeting on the FSIS Web page 
at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/News/Meetings--&--Events/.
    Also, when it becomes available, the official transcript of the 
meeting will be kept in the FSIS Docket Room at the above address and 
will also be posted on the Agency Web site, http://www.fsis.usda.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Keith Payne, Phone: (202) 690-6522, 
FAX: (202) 690-6519, e-mail: keith.payne@fsis.usda.gov or at the mail 
address: USDA, FSIS, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 1175, South 
Building, Washington, DC 20250.
    Persons requiring a sign language interpreter or other special 
accommodations should notify Mr. Payne by April 2, 2008.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) was first identified in the 
early 1980s in North America as the cause of outbreaks of bloody 
diarrhea, often leading to severe and fatal illness. These outbreaks 
were associated with ground beef consumption, and E. coli O157:H7 was 
the STEC identified as causing the illnesses. In 1994, FSIS notified 
the public that raw ground beef contaminated with E. coli O157:H7 is 
adulterated under the Federal Meat Inspection Act unless the ground 
beef is processed to destroy this pathogen. Also in 1994, FSIS began 
sampling and testing ground beef for E. coli O157:H7.
    On January 19, 1999, FSIS published a policy statement in the 
Federal Register that explained that if non-intact raw beef products or 
intact raw beef products that are to be processed into non-intact 
product prior to distribution for consumption are found to be 
contaminated with E. coli O157:H7, they will be deemed to be 
adulterated if not processed to destroy the pathogen (64 FR 2803).
    Beginning at least with the high prevalence season for E. coli 
O157:H7 in April 2007, some control measures for E. coli O157:H7 
implemented by beef operations have proven to be inadequate. During the 
period following April 2007, there has been an increased number of 
positives in Agency sampling for E. coli O157:H7 compared to the 
preceding three years, a couple of outbreaks attributed to this 
pathogen and beef products, and a number of large recalls. FSIS took a 
number of steps to address the increase in Agency E. coli O157:H7 
positive results, outbreaks, and illnesses.
    For example, on October 12, 2007, FSIS issued instructions to 
inspection program personnel to inform establishments producing raw 
beef products that they had an obligation (under 9 CFR 417.4(a)(3)) to 
reassess their HACCP system to determine whether any changes were 
necessary in response to these E. coli O157:H7 developments. On October 
12, 2007, FSIS also instructed inspection program personnel at 
establishments producing raw beef products to complete an on-line 
checklist detailing steps the establishment takes to address E. coli 
O157:H7. FSIS intends to use the information from the checklist to 
determine targeted approaches for Agency E. coli O157:H7 verification 
testing.
    Also in October 2007, FSIS implemented other steps, including 
follow-up sampling and testing of raw ground beef, raw ground beef 
trimmings, and other raw ground beef and raw beef patty components in 
response to an FSIS positive E. coli O157:H7 result or another Federal 
or State entity's positive E. coli O157:H7 result. It also announced 
that it would begin routine sampling and testing of raw ground beef 
components (including raw beef patty components) other than beef 
manufacturing trimmings for E. coli O157:H7. Raw ground beef components 
other than beef manufacturing trimmings include two piece chucks and 
other primal/sub-primal cuts intended for use in raw ground beef or 
other raw non-intact product, raw esophagus (weasand) meat, head meat, 
cheek meat, beef from advanced meat recovery (AMR) systems, low 
temperature rendered lean finely textured beef (LFTB), partially 
defatted chopped beef, partially defatted beef fatty tissue, and heart 
meat. Finally, on January 1, 2008, FSIS began a new risk-

[[Page 18258]]

based sampling program for E. coli O157:H7 that takes into account 
establishment volume.
    To continue to take steps to address E. coli O157:H7, FSIS will 
hold a public meeting on Wednesday and Thursday, April 9-10, 2008, to 
facilitate discussion with stakeholders on recent spikes in recalls and 
illnesses related to E. coli O157:H7; provide updates on FSIS 
initiatives related to E. coli O157:H7; and solicit input from 
producers, industry, consumers, academia, states, and other public 
health and regulatory agencies for possible solutions to address the 
challenges this pathogen presents.
    All interested parties are welcome to attend the meeting and to 
submit written comments on the agenda items after they are discussed 
through May 7, 2008, to Mr. Payne by phone (202) 690-6522, fax (202) 
690-6519, e-mail: Keith.payne@fsis.usda.gov, or at the mail address: 
USDA, FSIS, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW., Room 1175, South Building, 
Washington, DC 20250. Individuals who do not wish FSIS to post their 
personal contact information--mailing address, e-mail address, 
telephone number--on the Internet may leave the information off their 
comments.
    The comments and the official transcript of the meeting, when they 
become available, will be posted on the agency's Web site at http://
www.fsis.usda.gov.

Additional Public Notification

    Public awareness of all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to ensure that 
minorities, women, and persons with disabilities are aware of this 
notice, FSIS will announce it online through the FSIS Web page located 
at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations/2008--Notices--Index/. FSIS 
will also 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, and other types of information 
that could affect or would be of interest to constituents and 
stakeholders. The Update is communicated via Listserv, a free 
electronic mail subscription service for industry, trade groups, 
consumer interest groups, health professionals, and other individuals 
who have asked to be included. The 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 and more diverse audience. In addition, 
FSIS offers an electronic mail subscription service which provides 
automatic and customized access to 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 accounts.

    Done at Washington, DC, on: March 28, 2008.
Alfred V. Almanza,
Administrator.
 [FR Doc. E8-6868 Filed 4-2-08; 8:45 am]

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