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Constituent Update - December 6, 2013

FSIS Releases Salmonella Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Salmonella

This week, FSIS released its Salmonella Action Plan outlining the agency’s strategy to best address the threat of Salmonella in meat and poultry products. The plan identifies modernizing the outdated poultry slaughter inspection system as a top priority for FSIS.

To read the plan in its entirety, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/foodborne-illness-and-disease/salmonella/sap.

FSIS Publishes Fiscal Year 2014 Annual Performance Plan

Yesterday, FSIS shared with the public its “New Year’s Resolutions” for Fiscal Year 2014. Like many Americans who set goals for themselves at the beginning of each year, FSIS does the same. Known as the Annual Performance Plan (APP), this list identifies action items FSIS plans to achieve between now and September 2014. Achieving these goals will make America’s supply of meat, poultry and processed egg products safer to eat. This is FSIS’ third APP.  It is something the agency takes very seriously. FSIS is consistent with its emphasis on performance and its efforts to improve how employees do their jobs every day.

The goals listed in FSIS’ APP are all measurable. By setting specific targets and measuring its progress throughout the year, FSIS has a clearer picture of what is working well and which initiatives are not effective. By making targets public, FSIS is holding itself accountable to stakeholders and giving them an overview of the agency’s priorities and expectations for the year ahead.

Read the APP in its entirety at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/4f55646a-658b-490e-bbb5-b54f02a11999/APP-2014.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

FSIS Suspends Dexamethasone Testing

FSIS is announcing that it has recently suspended testing for dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressant, as part of the National Residue Program. The decision was made after consultation with FDA revealed that, based upon a human food safety review of the drug approval documentation, there is no basis for concern about an unsafe residue persisting in tissue of animals going for slaughter and intended for human consumption.

Export Requirement Updates

The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following areas:

  • Chile
  • Switzerland

Complete information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products.

Food Defense, Recall Preparedness Scenario-Based Exercise Tool Available

FSIS developed the Food Defense and Recall Preparedness: A Scenario-Based Exercise Tool for use by FSIS-regulated industry. This scenario-based tool highlights the importance of having a voluntary functional food-defense plan and written recall procedures. The tool identifies key components of a food-defense plan and recall procedures that are relevant to an organizations’ business. The exercise is designed to be completed within an hour’s time.  

The tool is available for free download at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-defense-defense-and-emergency-response. It is also located in FSIS’ Guidance Documents at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-defense-and-emergency-response/preparation-and-prevention/guidance-documents.

FSIS will be hosting webinars for industry to explain the purpose of the tool and demonstrate how to use it. The planned dates for the webinars are as follows:

  • Friday, December 13, 2013, at 12 p.m. ET
  • Thursday, January 9, 2014, at 2 p.m.  ET
  • Wednesday, February 19, 2014, 10 a.m. ET

A fourth webinar will also be scheduled in March 2014.

Participants can register for the webinars at https://webtraining.rti.org/fsis. Questions regarding the tool and webinars can be directed to nick.bauer@fsis.usda.gov.

Mechanically Tenderized Beef Comment Period Extended

FSIS is reopening the comment period for the Federal Register proposed rule on “Descriptive Designation for Needle- or Blade-tenderized (Mechanically Tenderized) Beef Products” until December 24, 2013. The agency is taking this action in response to a request made by a coalition of trade associations.

FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this notice. Comments may be submitted by either of the following methods:

Federal eRulemaking Portal: This website provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this Web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments.

Mail, including CD-ROMs: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163B, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

Hand- or courier-delivered submittals: Deliver to Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW, Room 8-163B, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

All items submitted by mail or e-mail must include the agency name and docket number FSIS-2007-0017. Comments received in response to this docket will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to http://www.regulations.gov.

For access to background documents or to comments received, go to the FSIS Docket Room at Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW, Room 8-164, Washington, DC 20250-3700 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

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 feeds that link back to the Q&As. Visit http://askfsis.custhelp.com/  to view recently posted topics.

New Resource: Fiscal Year 2014 FSIS Sampling Plan

On December 5, 2013, FSIS posted its FY 2014 Annual Sampling Plan that lays out the agency’s intended sampling activities. This plan continues a tradition, started by FSIS in 2012, of providing greater transparency on how the agency conducts sampling activities and manages its resources.  

This FY 2014 plan describes FSIS’ major activities related to microbiological and chemical residue sampling programs in domestic establishments, imports and in-commerce facilities in FY 2013, and describes the agency’s overall strategy for directing its sampling resources in FY 2014. For example, FSIS intends to begin a new exploratory sampling project for raw pork products for Salmonella, results from which may be used to establish new performance standards for Salmonella in pork products. 

This year, the report focuses on the number of samples FSIS plans to analyze, rather than the planned number of samples scheduled. This update reflects new operational abilities provided through FSIS’ Public Health Information System (PHIS), which allows the agency to adjust the number of samples scheduled on a monthly basis to better target the number of samples collected and analyzed. Further, this FY 2014 plan reflects a broader array of sampling programs than previous plans, with the inclusion of a new table to highlight additional sampling the agency conducts, such as Microbiological Baseline Studies.

For more information, please visit the following site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/fsis-data-analysis-and-reporting/data-reporting#5.

Update: FSIS Testing for E. coli

Between June 4, 2012, and December 1, 2013, FSIS laboratory services analyzed a total of 4,612 beef trim samples (4,014 domestic and 598 imported), 1,605 routine follow-up samples (1,491 domestic and 114 imported) and 20 non-routine follow-up/traceback samples. 

Sixty-seven samples were found to be positive; 33 were domestic trim samples; one was an imported trim sample; 32 were domestic follow-up samples; and one was a non-routine follow-up/traceback sample. To date, two samples have been positive for both O157:H7 and non-O157 STEC, and five samples have been positive for two different non-O157 O-groups

To review testing results, go to http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/microbiology/ec/testing-program-for-e-coli-o157h7-and-non-o157-stec.

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.

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.

Keeping Food Safe During an Emergency

Did you Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster or the loss of power from high winds, snow or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food? Did you know that a flood, fire, national disaster or the loss of power from high winds, snow or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food?

To learn the answer to the question above, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/food-safety-education/get-answers/food-safety-fact-sheets/emergency-preparedness/keeping-food-safe-during-an-emergency/ct_index.