Farm-to-Table Food Safety
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FSIS's goal of reducing
foodborne illness has required it to adopt a farm-to-table strategy for
risk management because hazards contributing to consumers' risks occur
throughout the farm-to-table continuum. However, FSIS has limited
resources to address all the risks, especially those occurring outside
FSIS-inspected slaughter and processing establishments. Much of
what FSIS does to reduce risks to consumers in these areas must be done
in collaboration with others.
Therefore, FSIS cooperates
with numerous government agencies, organizations and institutions to
help it manage consumers' risk associated with meat, poultry and egg
products. In addition, FSIS endorses and is contributing where it
can to the creation of a "seamless" national food safety system within
which all agencies - Federal, State and local - can work together more
effectively on making food safer for consumers and ensuring the security
of the nations' food supply.
The following are current
farm-to-table food safety activities sponsored by FSIS. This list covers
cooperative activities not listed elsewhere on FSIS' web site.
Other activities can be found at the following sites: FSIS
cooperative activities for managing risks on the farm are described in
Animal and Egg Production Food Safety Staff's home page.
Cooperative activities in support of State meat and poultry inspection
programs, which complement FSIS' risk management efforts during
commercial slaughter and processing, are found at this site under
Cooperative State MPI Programs. Activities
in support of State and local food safety agencies' risk management
efforts at retail are also at this site, under FSIS
Retail Partnerships. Cooperative and other activities directed
at consumer food safety are described on FSIS'
Food Safety Education
and Consumer Information home page.
Building a National Food Safety Laboratory
Prevention and amelioration of foodborne illnesses requires
effective and timely cooperation among public health, agriculture and
other agencies at Federal, State and local government levels. This
would be better accomplished in an environment where agencies could
rely on each others’ analytic data, which generally does not occur at
present. FSIS is collaborating with other Federal, State and local
agencies on developing a national food safety laboratory system that
would support the "real time" sharing among government food
laboratories of analytic data of public health and regulatory
significance.Since 1998, we have supported an annual national
meeting of government food laboratory directors in cooperation with
the Association of Food and Drug
Officials (AFDO) to work on this problem. From this meeting has
evolved a national food safety laboratory system project on
which FSIS is working in cooperation with
FDA and other cooperating agencies. This project will also improve
on our capabilities to protect consumers and food producers from terrorists
targeting the food supply.
The project is divided into three parts: laboratory accreditation,
analytic methodologies, and data sharing.
establishes that participating laboratories are all operating to
the same high standards. FSIS is supporting a pilot program involving
federal food laboratories at
FDA, and the US Army; state
food laboratories in Tennessee, Florida, New Hampshire,
Massachusetts; and Municipal food laboratories in Milwaukee,
Wisconsin and Cincinnati, Ohio. The purpose of the pilot is for
the participating laboratories to become accredited under
comprehensive, internationally recognized ISO 17025 standards,
and in the process develop guidance materials for other
laboratories wishing to do the same. To date, FSIS
and the Army have been accredited, and several other laboratories are close to becoming accredited.
Guidance materials have been developed and are available in CD format
from FSIS upon request..
||Analytic methodologies used
for testing foods in support of regulatory and public health
policies must be readily understood, recognized as valid and
reproducible, and available for use by all agencies, if analytic
data from any test are to be meaningful and accepted by others.
In September, 2001, FSIS entered into a cooperative agreement
with AOAC International to develop and maintain a system to
provide standard analytical methods to food safety laboratories.
The system will permit all Federal, State and local
laboratories, and other organizations doing food safety work, to
have electronic access to the latest methods of analysis for
substances and microorganisms of food safety significance, each
method classified as to kind of validation to ensure the use of the most
appropriate one. The agreement projects
completion of the system in 2004. Project status reports are done
quarterly and are available electronically from FSLGRS upon request.
||Data sharing is the goal of
the system. The rapid sharing of reliable data will eliminate
duplications of effort and ensure the quickest possible response
to outbreaks and other threats to public health linked to our
food supply. FSIS is coordinating and supporting its
collaboration with FDA on the
development of the Electronic Laboratory Exchange Network (eLEXNET)
system. The system provides a core set of data elements and system
for secure electronic data exchange, information sharing, and
collaboration. It was tested by the laboratories participating in
the accreditation pilot project, sharing data on E. coli O157:H7.
The system has now been expanded to include additional microbiological
analytes, and additional laboratories throughout the country
Coordination in Responding to
Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness
Foodborne Outbreak Investigations: Guidelines for Improving
Coordination and Communication" (Draft) has been developed in
conjunction with FDA,
CDC, and State and local agency
representatives to permit better coordination among jurisdictions
affected by an outbreak.
Guidance on Retail Food Safety Requirements
The agency is partnering with FDA
and CDC on the development of each
biannual issue of the
Food Code, a
model ordinance and guidance document that provides the best available
advice to States and others on regulating food safety in retail stores
and food service facilities. FSIS also coordinates
USDA participation in the
public-private Conference for
Food Protection , which meets in alternate years, to develop
recommended amendments to the
Training on Meat and Poultry Processing at
FSIS has a cooperative agreement with
AFDO to present a course on meat and poultry processing at retail.
Product processed at retail is exempt from inspection under the
Federal inspection statutes. Normally, retail facilities are
inspected by state and local inspectors only.
AFDO and the
AFDO Regional Affiliates are hosting
the two-day courses at various sites around the country. The
course, developed and tested by AFDO,
University of Florida, and FSIS under a previous agreement, will be
directed primarily at training trainers of State and local food safety
officials who regulate and inspect retail establishments. The
courses will also be open to industry and other participants.
The course emphasized the importance of SSOP's and focuses on a HACCP
approach to controlling hazards associated with activities most
commonly conducted at retail-grinding, formulation and slicing,
sausage making, fermented and semi-dry sausage making, making jerky
and other dried meats, and curing and smoking. FY 2002 courses have been
conducted in New York, Florida, and Illinois. FY 2003 courses are
planned for New England, the West, and the Southwest. See the
AFDO's website for details.
Guidance on Regulating Inspection-Exempt
FSIS has a cooperative agreement with
AFDO to develop guidance for states on the regulation and
inspection of slaughter facilities that are exempt from mandatory
inspection under the federal statutes. These include primarily custom
slaughter establishments under the
Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and small-scale poultry
processors under the
Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA). Although FSIS has
regulations governing such establishments, and requires periodic
inspections of the facilities for sanitation and other purposes, in
most cases FSIS uses state inspectors, operating under a cooperative
agreement with FSIS, to conduct the required inspection.
State agencies have expressed a need for guidance in this area. New
approaches to the slaughter and processing of live animals for human
food use continue to evolve, particularly in ethnic markets. This has
led in recent years to increased difficulty in deciding when
exemptions from inspection should apply, and if they do apply, how
state agencies can, in concert with FSIS, best regulate these
establishments to protect their consumers from unsafe, unwholesome or
An FSIS-AFDO workgroup met
early in 2002 to draft appropriate guidance materials, with publication
planned for late in the year.
Directory of State and Local Food Safety
FSIS assists FDA's Division of
Federal State Relations in maintaining the
Directory of State and Local Officials for use by both agencies.