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Constituent Update - December 13, 2013

Notice Provides Instructions to IPP on Beef Manufacturing Trimmings, Bench Trim Sampling Programs

FSIS issued FSIS Notice 81-13, which provides instructions to inspection program personnel (IPP) that clarify what product they are to sample under the beef manufacturing trimmings and the bench trim sampling programs. Additionally, the notice expands sampling eligibility to include source materials intended for use in any raw non-intact beef product. Previously, sampling eligibility was limited to source materials intended for use in raw ground beef products.

This notice responds to an Office of Inspector General (OIG) audit concerning FSIS testing of boxed beef. OIG found that FSIS did not consistently sample establishments that receive purchased products, e.g., primal and subprimal cuts that establishments used as-is to make raw ground beef products. This notice clarifies that primal or subprimal cuts further processors receive and use for raw ground beef products or other raw non-intact products are considered bench trim and are subject to sampling under MT55.

This notice has a delayed implementation date of Jan. 5, 2014, to provide IPP adequate time to review and understand the instructions in this notice.

To view the notice in its entirety, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/0885827b-c8a3-4ef3-b225-0bb9b1464989/81-13.pdf?MOD=AJPERES

U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council Webinar

The U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) will hold a webinar to update stakeholders on RCC progress on meat equivalence, export certification and nomenclature projects. The webinar is scheduled for Jan. 9, 2014, from 2-4 p.m., ET, and FSIS will provide information, when available, on how stakeholders can participate. The webinar is designed to review progress on implementation of the equivalence, certification, and nomenclature RCC initiatives, and seek input on the next phase of regulatory cooperation in these areas.  

A copy of the RCC Action Plan, individual sector work plans, including the meat-related projects, as well as other RCC related information is available at www.trade.gov/rcc/. FSIS and USDA-related questions, comments and concerns relative to the RCC initiatives and the stakeholder webinar can also be addressed to RCC-BtB@one.usda.gov. For those unable to attend the January 9 webinar, comments for FSIS and other USDA agencies may be directed to this same address for review.

Export Requirement Updates

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

  • Nothing to report

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

Poultry Checklist Questionnaire Available for Public Comment

In December 2012, FSIS announced in the Federal Register notice “HACCP Plan Reassessment for Not-Ready-To-Eat Comminuted Poultry Products and Related Agency Verification Procedures” its intent to conduct a survey of its inspection program personnel in chicken and turkey slaughter and further processing establishments, including establishments that produce comminuted poultry. FSIS inspection program personnel who are stationed in chicken and turkey slaughtering or processing establishments will be asked to complete the poultry checklist questionnaire.  

FSIS will use the poultry checklist questionnaire to gather information on establishment pathogen control programs, chemical interventions and sampling programs. In addition, the agency will use the checklist to gather information on whether establishments made changes to their HACCP plans in response to the required reassessment, or whether changes were made before the mandatory reassessment. The checklist will also ask for a general description of any changes that the establishment made.

This poultry checklist is designed to gather information that is not collected in the Public Health Information System. Before providing this checklist to its inspection program personnel, FSIS is seeking public comment on the questions it plans to include in the poultry checklist.

The opportunity to comment will end on Jan. 3, 2014, and the agency will consider revising the checklist based on its review of the comments. The agency does not intend to grant any extensions of the opportunity to comment. Go to the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FSIS-2013-0046-0001 to view the poultry checklist and provide comment.

FSIS Releases Audit Report of China’s Slaughter System

Today, FSIS posted on its website the findings of the 2013 audit of China’s poultry slaughter system.

Based on the findings of this audit, FSIS determined that China’s poultry slaughter system is not equivalent to that of the United States. Therefore, poultry slaughtered in China cannot be shipped to the United States.

The full text of the audit report can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/ed782de3-82e1-4298-aac9-14da84d1ebd2/2013_China_Poultry_Slaughter_FAR.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

The website to the foreign audits page is as follows: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/importing-products/eligible-countries-products-foreign-establishments/foreign-audit-reports.

A resource page is also available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/resources.

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.

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.

Upcoming NACMPI Meeting

The National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) will meet Jan. 7-8, 2014, in Patriots Plaza III located at 355 E St., SW, Washington, DC. The meeting will focus on safe food handling labels and the FSIS establishment-specific data released in the strategic plan.  

On January 7, the plenary session will be held from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., ET. Two subcommittees will meet concurrently from 1-5 p.m. The full committee will reconvene on January 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The meeting agenda will be posted prior to the meeting and available publicly via live streaming video at www.fsis.usda.gov. Please register for the meeting at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/advisory-committees/nacmpi/nacmpi-meetings/nacmpi-registration.

Established in 1971, the NACMPI provides advice to the Secretary of Agriculture concerning State and Federal programs with respect to meat, poultry and processed egg products inspection.

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.

Keep Food Safe During an Emergency

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 how to keep your food safe, 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.

FSIS Policy Updates

FSIS issues notices and directives to protect public health. All notices and directives are available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations. The following policy updates were recently issued:

  • Notice 81-13, Clarification and Expansion of Sampling Eligibility Criteria for the Routine Beef Manufacturing Trimmings (MT60) and Bench Trim (MT55) Sampling Programs
  • Directive 1300.4 Revision 1, Access to Electronic and Information Technology Systems
  • Directive 2620.3, Identifying Records Management Liaison (RML)
  • Directive 3720.1 Revision 3, Federal Tort Claims

Update: Label Backlog, Expedited Label Evaluation Procedures

FSIS is aware of industry’s concern with the increased label backlog during the shutdown in October. The agency is also aware that establishments are still experiencing increased hardships based on the delay in label approval. Know that FSIS’ Labeling and Program Delivery Staff (LPDS) is working hard to review and process labels as quickly as possible. The agency will also resume its expedited review process that it used prior to the government shutdown with some modifications.

Labels submitted as an extraordinary circumstance according to the guidance for retained product that requires temporary approval will be expedited. However, each situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis, as long as the information is provided to the agency that documents the need for expedited review with the label application. Such instances can include the following: product that has been retained or “tagged” by program personnel at official establishments or by the establishment itself for which a temporary approval will facilitate movement of the product; labels under temporary approval that are about to expire; and establishments that will incur a financial hardship or loss of business if the label is not evaluated within a period of time.

FSIS will not consider expedited reviews to labels that qualify for generic approval per 9 CFR 317.5 or 381.133 (and 9 CFR 412.2  effective January 6, 2014). For additional information, please contact LPDS at 301-504-0878.

Labeling guidance can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/labeling/labeling-procedures/procedures-evaluating-labeling. The information above was previously outlined in the Constituent Update on Oct.18, 2013.

FSIS Food Recalls and Alerts

Stay up to date on FSIS’ food recalls and alerts by visiting FSIS’ Current Recalls and Alerts Web page at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/current-recalls-and-alerts.

You can also receive email notifications when public health alerts and recalls are issued. Register at https://public.govdelivery.com/accounts/USFSIS/subscriber/new?pop=t.

Report a Problem with Food

Separate government agencies are responsible for protecting different segments of the food supply. If you have experienced a problem with a food product, be sure to contact the appropriate public health organization.

Visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/recalls-and-public-health-alerts/report-a-problem-with-food for more information.