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USDA Announces Proposed Rule for the Inspection of Catfish and Catfish Products
FSIS announced this week a proposed rule requiring inspection of catfish and catfish products by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). USDA is proposing these regulations to implement provisions as required by the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 ( 2008 Farm Bill).

The 2008 Farm Bill amended the Federal Meat Inspection Act making catfish an amenable species under the act, thereby requiring that all catfish undergo inspection by FSIS. Additionally, the Secretary of Agriculture must take into account the conditions under which catfish are raised and transported to processing establishments as part of the new inspection program.

Comments must be received on or before June 26, through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov or by mail to USDA, FSIS Docket Clerk, Room 2-2127. George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Ave, Beltsville, MD 20705. Submissions may also be received through e-mail at fsis.regulationscomments@fsis.usda.gov. All comments must identify FSIS and the docket number FSIS-2008-0031.

Comments will be available for view on the FSIS website at: www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/
proposed_rules/index.asp
. In addition to receiving public comments, FSIS intends to hold public meetings on the proposed rule, which will be announced at a later date. To review a copy of the proposed rule, go to www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/
Proposed_Rules/index.asp
.

Register for the 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum
USDA is hosting the 2011 Agricultural Outlook Forum, Today's Strategies and Tomorrow's Opportunities, Feb. 24 to 25 at the Crystal Gateway Marriott Hotel in Arlington, Va.

The forum features 25 breakout sessions spotlighting a range of issues related to risk management, renewable energy, sustainability, conservation and the environment, as well as nutrition and USDA Dietary Guidelines.

Under Secretary Dr. Elisabeth Hagen will introduce and moderate a food safety panel discussion on Feb. 25. For more information, visit www.usda.gov/oce/forum or e-mail agforum@oce.usda.gov.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Recognized for FSIS Enforcement Successes
FSIS' Office of Program Evaluation, Enforcement and Review (OPEER) recognized several assistant U.S. attorneys on Feb. 4 from the Eastern District of New York for their outstanding efforts in enforcement actions on FSIS investigations.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, located in Brooklyn, N.Y., also presented awards to investigators within OPEER for their assistance in the Island Farm Meat Corporation case.

In this case, the U.S. attorney's Office obtained a court-ordered injunction stopping Island Farm from selling uninspected poultry products in violation of FSIS laws. The court decree that resulted from OPEER's investigation required the firm to establish extensive sanitary standards and programs to ensure compliance with FSIS laws and the safety of the firm's products. The decree also provides for a series of penalties for future violations, including escalating monetary fines and cessation of the firm's ability to continue operations.

The U.S. Attorney's Office is currently working with OPEER and the Office of General Council on several other cases, and the decree developed in this case is serving as a model for future enforcement actions.

Export Requirement Updates
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following countries:
  • Australia
  • Egypt
  • New Zealand

Complete information can be found at www.fsis.usda.gov/
Regulations_&_Policies/Export_Information/index.asp
.

Register for Codex Public Meeting to Seek Comments on Food Additives
The Office of Food Safety and the Food and Drug Administration are co-sponsoring a public meeting to receive public comments and draft U.S. positions that will be discussed during the 43rd Session of the Codex Committee on Food Additives (CCFA), to be held in Xiamen, China.

The public meeting will be held on Feb. 22, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., in the auditorium of the Harvey Wiley Bldg., 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD. Interested parties may submit written comments and register electronically at cfsan-ccfa@fda.hhs.gov.

Documents and agenda items related to the 43rd Session of the CCFA are available at www.codexalimentarius.net/current.asp. For more information about the public meeting, contact Dr. Jannavi Srinivasan at (301) 436-1199 or jannavi.srinivasan@fda.hhs.gov.

USDA Announces Codex Public Meeting on Contaminants in Food
The Office of Food Safety will sponsor a public meeting to receive public comments and draft U.S. positions that will be discussed during the 5th Session of the Codex Committee on Contaminants in Food (CCCF), to be held in The Hague, Netherlands.

The public meeting is scheduled for Feb. 22, from 1 to 3 p.m. at the Harvey W. Wiley Federal Bldg., 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy, Rm 1A - 001, College Park, MD, 20740. To participate via teleconference, dial (866) 692-3158 and enter the passcode 5986642.

Documents and agenda items related to the 5th Session of the CCCF are available on the Codex website at www.codexalimentarius.net/current.asp. For more information, c ontact Henry Kim, Ph. D at (301) 436-2023 or Henry.Kim@fda.hhs.gov. Individuals are invited to submit comments at the meeting or electronically to uscodex@fsis.usda.gov.

New Salmonella Standards: A Weekly Industry Progress Update

Plant CategoryPercent Complete and Passed as of Feb 14, 2011Percent That Could Complete and Pass by Mar 31, 2011
Young Chickens86.7 (=0.0)88.5 (-1.2)
Young Turkeys87.8 (-3.1)93.9 (-3.0)

FSIS is tracking industry performance to see if 90 percent of poultry slaughter establishments would have met updated and tightened Salmonella standards for 2010 if they had been in effect. (See the Dec. 17, 2010, issue of the Constituent Update at www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/
Const_Update_121710/index.asp
.)

The table above shows progress as of this week projecting a final best-case possible total with changes from last week indicated in the parentheses.

Get Answers at askFSIS
AskFSIS is a web-based technology and policy question-and-answer forum on topics such as exporting, labeling, inspection, programs and procedures.

In addition, askFSIS offers Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds that link back to the Q&As. Visit askfsis.custhelp.com/. Recently posted topics include:

New Podcasts
Tune in to podcasts on selecting, handling and preparing meat and poultry products to reduce the risk of foodborne illness. FSIS released these podcasts helpful to consumers.
  • What is E. coli 0157:H7? (English and Spanish)

Check out these podcast at www.fsis.usda.gov/news_&_events/Podcasts/index.asp. Spanish language consumer podcasts are available at www.fsis.usda.gov/En_Espanol/Podcasts_SP/index.asp. Video-casts in American Sign Language are available at www.fsis.usda.gov/news_&_events/SignFSIS/index.asp.

To continue automatically receiving podcasts, renew your subscription. For assistance, e-mail podcast@fsis.usda.gov.

Check Out the PHIS Resource Page
Information about the dynamic, user-friendly data analytics system, called the Public Health Information System (PHIS) is available on the FSIS website at
www.fsis.usda.gov/PHIS.

FSIS is developing PHIS as an effort to collect, consolidate and analyze data. This public health-based approach is in line with the core principles of the President's Food Safety Working Group.

FSIS also developed a video, available on YouTube, PHIS 101: The Basics. It provides a comprehensive overview of the system and the advantages it will deliver. Check it out at www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYPO3MHDHRs.