| USDA Announces Steps to Improve Residue Compliance and Increase Testing with Repeat Violators
FSIS announced this week two steps designed to prevent meat products that contain illegal residues from reaching consumers: the issuance of a compliance guide that will help livestock slaughter establishments avoid purchasing animals with illegal drug or other chemical residues; and increased testing of animals from producers with a history of residue violations.
The residue compliance guide is intended for all livestock slaughter establishments, particularly those for dairy cows and bob veal calves, which account for the majority of residue violations. The guide outlines basic measures that slaughter establishments can employ to prevent or reduce residues in livestock.
FSIS administers the U.S. National Residue Program ( NRP) to keep products with illegal residues from reaching consumers. As part of this week's announcement, FSIS stated that a key part of the NRP, the Residue Repeat Violator List, has been revised and streamlined to be more user-friendly.
The list now includes only producers who have supplied more than one animal with an illegal residue level in the past year. FSIS is interested in receiving comments on the list, including how to improve its usefulness, and whether the agency should provide additional information on producers who supply animals with violative residues.
The agency's increased testing applies to animals from producers who have been identified by the FDA as producing livestock with residue violations. Since 2008, FSIS has increased testing of animals from producers whose practices have resulted in residue violations. FSIS also recently increased residue testing of carcasses in establishments that fail to apply adequate residue control measures.
The compliance guide is available on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/
Compliance_Guides_Index . FSIS is inviting public comment on both the notice, which was published in the Federal Register on April 25, and the compliance guide, by June 25, at www.regulations.gov.
PHIS Import Inspection Component Scheduled to Launch May 29
FSIS is preparing to implement the import component of the Public Health Information System (PHIS) on May 29. All FSIS import regions are scheduled to begin using PHIS on this date.
In preparation, letters were distributed to foreign governments on March 20 and importers on April 18 providing information on changes to certification requirements, product categorization and presentation for import reinspection and sampling at official import inspection establishments.
Import establishments should expect to receive a letter with this information in the next two weeks. These letters are posted on the web at www.fsis.usda.gov/Regulations_&_Policies/
PHIS_Import_Component/index.asp and also linked to the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/PHIS/index.asp. Look to future issues of the Constituent Update and check the website for more information.
FSIS Expands Mercury Testing Capability
The FSIS laboratory system will implement methodology to analyze for mercury in animal tissue. The method will be referred to as Determination of Mercury by Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy.
Additional details for this testing will be posted in the FSIS Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook with an effective date no earlier than May 27. To review the guidebook, visit www.fsis.usda.gov/Science/Chemistry_Lab_Guidebook/
Export Requirement Updates
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following countries:
Comment Period Extended for Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection Proposed Rule
FSIS extended the comment period 30 days for a proposed rule to modernize the way young chickens and turkeys are inspected. Comments are now due by May 29. The request to extend the comment period was made by constituents and the agency agreed.
The notice clarifies answers to questions from several groups; the posting of those answers ensures that the groups and the public have access to the same information. The notice also specifies that FSIS is seeking information and data on potential impacts of line speed on worker safety.
The notice announcing the extension will be posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/regulations_&_policies/
Proposed_Rules/index.asp and will publish in the Federal Register.
Comments may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS, Docket Clerk, Patriots Plaza III, 355 E. St S.W., 8-163A, Mailstop 3782, Washington, DC 20250-3700. All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the agency name and docket number, which will be assigned when it is published in the Federal Register.
NACMCF Subcommittee to Hold Public Meetings
The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods, Subcommittee on Control Strategies for Reducing Foodborne Norovirus Infections will meet May 8 through May 10, to discuss improving control of the transmission of foodborne Human Noroviruses (HuNoV).
The group will consider HuNoV incidence of infection, attribution in foods, detection methodology as well as the most effective control practices and interventions.
The meetings will take place Tuesday, May 8, through Thursday May 10, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Patriots Plaza III, Rm 9-131, 355 E St., S.W., Washington D.C. 20024. Due to increased security measures, all persons wishing to attend must RSVP in advance. To register, contact Karen Thomas-Sharp at (202) 690-6620 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Webinar Available for Generic Labeling Approval Processes
FSIS will hold a webinar on generic labeling regulations on May 22 at 2 p.m. ET.
The webinar is intended to provide guidance on the types of labeling and modifications to previously approved labels that are generically approved by FSIS.
In addition, the discussion will provide an overview of the agency's proposed rule to allow establishments to label a broader range of products without first submitting the label to FSIS for approval.
To access the webinar, go to https://connect16.uc.att.com/usda/meet/?ExEventID=85277207
Updates on FSIS Testing for E. coli
Weekly updates for the agency's raw beef E. coli sampling program are posted to the FSIS website.
For comparative previous and current year results, go to www.fsis.usda.gov/Science/
FSIS to Launch Label Submission and Approval System
As mentioned in previous issues of the Constituent Update, the Labeling and Program Delivery Division is preparing to launch the Label Submission and Approval System (LSAS). The launch of this system will have a significant impact on the speed and accuracy of label review, as well as the ability to develop data-specific reports based on labeling information.
To use the system, users will need to have USDA "Level 2" e-Authentication (eAuth). Below are the steps to create an account.
Food Safety Discovery Zone!
Visit the USDA Food Safety Discovery Zone. See where we've been and watch for announcements of upcoming events.
For dates, times and more information, go to www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/
"Cook It Safe" Four Basic Messages
To prevent food poisoning at home, do the following:
To find out more about the campaign, go to www.fsis.usda.gov/Food_Safety_Education/
Follow Us on Twitter
Find food safety information for at-risk people along with tips and resources to keep consumers and other interested groups informed of the latest agency news and events. Follow FSIS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/USDAFoodSafety.
You can also receive alerts about recalls in your state and how to keep food safe during severe weather in your area by following FSIS' state Twitter feeds. A list of all FSIS state food safety alert Twitter feeds is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fsis_Recalls/
Also Tweet En Español
The FSIS Spanish language Twitter feed keeps consumers and other interested communities informed of the latest agency news and events and provides useful food safety tips.
Follow FSIS' Spanish Twitter account at www.twitter.com/usdafoodsafe_es.