|Food Safety and Inspection
United States Department of Agriculture
Washington, D.C. 20250-3700
FSIS has launched a redesigned website to give its constituents easier and faster access to information about food safety. Visitors who go to http://www.fsis.usda.gov can talk to “Karen,” a virtual hotline representative. She will instantly respond to questions about safely storing, preparing and handling meat, poultry and egg products. Consumers still can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) with questions. In just one click, constituents can find the information they need. Finding the latest updates such as FSIS recall releases, policies and regulations will be simple. The FSIS site redesign follows Secretary Ann M. Veneman’s announcement in January of an aggressive program to enhance the Department’s electronic capabilities—part of President Bush’s Management agenda.
“Protecting America’s Meat, Poultry and Egg Products: A Report to the Secretary on the Food Security Initiatives of the Food Safety and Inspection Service,” was introduced on April 22, in Athens, Georgia. The report details the activities the agency has undertaken since enactment of Public Law 107-188, which allows FSIS to use existing authorities to protect the U.S. food supply safe from intentional contamination. The previous report, released January 2003, detailed the efforts that the Agency took immediately after the attacks of September 11, 2001. The improvements in emergency preparedness and response and increased levels of scientific expertise in biological, chemical, and radiological terrorism were highlighted by Dr. Elsa A. Murano, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety, at the Biosafety Level 3 (BSL-3) facility in Athens, Ga.
FSIS announced this week that the deadline for all applicable businesses to register with the agency has been extended to May 24, 2004.
Unless a business operates under Federal inspection, it is required by law to register with the USDA if it deals in meat or poultry products in, or for, commerce. Since 1970, FSIS has required businesses affected by the Poultry Products Inspection Act and the Federal Meat Inspection Act to maintain business records and to make such records available to FSIS employees upon request. Registration information and business records are critical in any FSIS investigation related to public health, food safety or misbranding of meat or poultry products. This information is particularly vital in tracing the source of pathogens and in preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses.
The new registration form asks registrants to provide certain information that was not previously requested, including an e-mail address, phone number and subsidiaries’ hours of operation. All businesses, including those that are currently registered, must complete the new form and submit it to FSIS. The new registration form is currently available and can be accessed at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations/2004_Notices_Index/index.asp. The form will also be available from FSIS personnel who visit businesses required to register.
FSIS, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, Food and Drug Administration, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have developed an updated edition of Diagnosis and Management of Foodborne Illnesses: A Primer for Physicians and Other Health Care Professionals. In 2001, FSIS co-sponsored the development of the first edition of the primer. The second edition includes patient hand-outs and sections on five new topics: salmonella, toxoplasma, listeria, Hepatitis A, norovirus, and unexplained illnesses. This educational resource provides doctors and other health care professionals with information to help them identify and treat cases of foodborne illness. It also includes safe food handling tips that health care providers can share with their patients. Health care professionals can receive free copies of the primer by requesting them from the AMA. Many of the primer resources are also available on the AMA web site at www.ama-assn.org/go/foodborne. Links to consumer tips for food safety are also provided on our Agency’s web site, www.fsis.usda.gov.
A foodborne illness warning from FSIS is appearing this month in an unexpected—but highly visible—place. It’s printed on the backs of envelopes in which the Internal Revenue Service will mail tax refunds to an estimated 15 million Americans in April. The message encourages consumers to call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline for advice on preventing foodborne illness.
The Subcommittee on Scientific Criteria for Redefining Pasteurization of the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) will hold public meetings April 27-29 and May 11, 2004. In addition, the NACMCF Subcommittee on Criteria for Refrigerated Shelf-life Based on Safety will hold public meetings May 11-14, 2004. Both subcommittees will meet at the Aerospace Building, 901 .D. St., SW, Room 369, Washington, DC.
If you would like to attend any of these meetings or need more information, please contact Karen Thomas, Advisory Committee Specialist, at 202-690-6620. Due to increased security measures at the Aerospace Building, all persons wishing to attend must RSVP in advance.
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for Canada,Cuba, Hong Kong and People's Republic of China. Complete information can be found at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OFO/export/explib.htm
FSIS plans and administers a national import reinspection program. After the U.S. Customs Service and USDA-APHIS requirements are met, shipments imported into the U.S. must be reinspected by FSIS at an approved import inspection facility. FSIS has about 75 inspectors who carry out reinspection in approximately 125 official import establishments. To learn more about IPS please visit: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/about/OIA/index.asp
*This section has been added to
remind readers of information available on the
FSIS web site.
Web links will vary from week-to-week.
FSIS Laboratories and Procedures
Office of Program, Evaluation, Enforcement and Review
Food Safety Mobile Game
For Further Information Contact:
FSIS Constituent Affairs Program
Phone: (202) 720-9113
Fax: (202) 720-5704