|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
Congressional and Public
Carol Blake (202) 720-9113
WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2000--The U.S.Department of Agricultures Food Safety and Inspection Service is proposing to share some proprietary information with state and other federal government agencies when a recall of meat or poultry products is being conducted.
"Sharing recall information helps all government agencies involved work together more professionally to ensure the effectiveness of a recall," said Thomas J. Billy, administrator of FSIS. "Such cooperation helps to find solutions to provide consumer protection from foodborne illnesses, enhances public health, and contributes to the higher efficiency of government."
Under this proposed rule, published in todays Federal Register, FSIS may, in the interest of public health, share some confidential proprietary information with other government agencies in connection with the recalls of meat, poultry and egg products. Under the Freedom of Information Act, Congress recognizes the need for the federal government to withhold certain categories of information from public disclosure. Therefore, agencies receiving the information would provide written agreements not to disclose proprietary information without the companys written permission or written confirmation from FSIS.
FSIS will continue to issue a news release for all meat and poultry recalls, as was stated in its Jan.19 directive updating FSIS recall procedures and outlining a new policy. Releases reflect the health risk posed by the product, and indicate whether the product is identifiable to consumers. The directive and this proposal grew out of recommendations made by an FSIS Recall Working Group.
FSIS has issued a guide that outlines the actions industry can take before a recall occurs and the step-by-step procedures a firm should follow when recalling a product. These materials are available on the FSIS web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov.
Recalls are voluntary actions by plants or distributors in cooperation with federal and state agencies. Products are recalled if they are found to be contaminated, adulterated or misbranded according to provisions of the Federal Meat Inspection Act or the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Although FSIS cannot order a recall, the agency does have the authority to detain and seize the product after it is located.
Recalls of meat and poultry products are coordinated and monitored by FSIS or state agencies, depending on whether the products are distributed in interstate or intrastate commerce.
Written comments should be mailed by Nov. 20 to the FSIS Docket Clerk, Docket #99-029P, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102, Cotton Annex, 300 12th St., S.W., Washington, DC 20250-3700.
For Further Information, Contact:
FSIS Congressional and Public Affairs
Phone: (202) 720-9113
Fax: (202) 690-0460
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