|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
April 21, 1998
To: Establishment Management Officials
This letter provides establishment management officials guidance on the Agency's appeal process and policy. FSIS has instructed its program employees to deal with appeals in a timely and professional manner (see Attachment 1)*, and FSIS expects that the industry would respond in a similar manner.
FSIS regulations provide establishments the opportunity to appeal an inspection finding or decision made by any program employee. Prior to appealing, the establishment may request that the program employee or Inspector-in-Charge (IIC) reconsider his or her finding or decision. Appeals should be directed to the immediate supervisor having jurisdiction over the subject matter of the appeal. The following outlines the chain-of-command for inspection decisions:
The FSIS employee considering the appeal must make a decision, document his or her determination, and provide necessary information for the Inspection Appeals Tracking System (IATS) report (described in Attachment 1). The appeal determination must be communicated orally or in writing to establishment management officials and other FSIS employees involved with that appeal. The appeal and the determination will become a matter of public record, and anyone can obtain information concerning it through a Freedom of Information Act request.
To facilitate the efficient and effective resolution of appeals, FSIS recommends that an establishment's appeal of an inspection finding or decision be based on a legitimate disagreement as to the facts or the application of a regulatory provision. FSIS discourages rote or frivolous appeals, because they impede FSIS's ability to resolve meritorious appeals. When appealing a decision or finding, the establishment should be clear and specific as to what finding or decision they are appealing. Establishments should provide as much supporting information (e.g., technical information, scientific data) regarding the appeal as possible. FSIS's ability to respond quickly and reasonably to an appeal is based, in large part, on the quality of information provided by the establishment.
Establishments that plan to appeal an inspection finding or decision should do so as soon as possible. Timely appeals will help ensure that the relevant information is provided to subsequent decision makers promptly and that facts and observations can be verified. Timely appeals also avoid the implication that the establishment does not contest the inspection finding or decision. Establishments may appeal orally or in writing. However, to ensure that the information presented to FSIS program employees is accurate and consistent, FSIS recommends that an establishment document its appeal in writing.
Thomas J. Billy
*The linked file is a PDF document.
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