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Constituent Update - January 10, 2014

Government-Sponsored “Safety Datapalooza” Next Week

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the White House Office of Public Engagement, the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are hosting the second annual “Safety Datapalooza,” highlighting innovators from the private, nonprofit and academic sectors who have used freely available government data to build products, services and apps that advance public safety in creative and powerful ways. The event will feature new safety data resources in the areas of transportation, food, occupational and consumer product safety, as well as tools to improve disaster preparedness and emergency response. The event will also include a series of panel discussions and brainstorming sessions in which attendees will have the opportunity to discuss how technology and open data are being used to address public safety challenges across America. FSIS will be participating in the event.

The event will be held Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, at the USDA, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Washington, DC 20250. The morning portion will be held in USDA’s Jefferson Auditorium (South Building) and the afternoon portion will be held on USDA’s Whitten Patio (Whitten Building).

To register for the event, please contact Andres Talero, USDA Office of the Chief Information Officer at (202) 720-3591 or at andres.talero@ocio.usda.gov.

Follow @SafetyDataGov on Twitter for the latest information about the event and ongoing efforts. 

NACMPI Offers Recommendations

FSIS’ Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training’s Outreach and Partnership Division hosted the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) for a 2-day public meeting in Washington, DC., on Jan. 7 and 8.

The NACMPI reviewed and made their recommendations on the following issues:

  • Safe Food Handling Labels
  • FSIS’ Establishment-Specific Data Release Strategic Plan

All meeting materials are available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/advisory-committees/nacmpi/nacmpi-meetings. A link to the transcript will be posted when it becomes available.

The committee’s recommendations on each issue will also be posted upon final review and clearance.

Export Requirement Updates

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

  • Nicaragua

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

FSIS Implements Final Rule on New Generic Labeling

On Jan. 6, 2014, the final rule entitled, Prior Label Approval System: Generic Label Approval (78 FR 66826) became effective. Under the final rule, only labels in one or more of the following four categories will require evaluation and approval by the Labeling and Program Delivery Staff (LPDS) prior to use:

Any label that is not included in one or more of the above categories is generically approved under 9 CFR 412.2 and does not need to be submitted to LPDS for approval prior to use.

Generically approved labels need to bear all applicable mandatory labeling features in compliance with FSIS regulations and are not false or misleading in any particular [9 CFR 412.1(a)(1) and 412.2(b)]. Official establishments and establishments certified under a foreign inspection system may use generically approved labels without submitting them to FSIS for approval.

Labels that require LPDS evaluation will receive first priority evaluation. Establishments may request voluntary LPDS evaluation of generically approved labels; these applications will be placed in a second priority queue and will be evaluated by LPDS as time permits. In Label Submission Approval System (LSAS), establishments should include the request by typing “generic” in the box entitled “Other claim description” in Step 3: Special Claims Information of the LSAS label submission process. On a paper application, establishments should type “generic” under the prompt “Other claims:” in Block 10 of FSIS Form 7234-1.

LPDS will continue to review all labels submitted prior to Jan. 6, 2014, in the order in which they were received. Establishments that are currently awaiting LPDS evaluation of generically approved labels (i.e., labels do not fit into one of the categories mentioned above) may contact LPDS. LPDS will remove these label applications from the queue and return them to the establishment without review. Again, generically approved labels do not need to be approved by LPDS and can be used in commerce provided they meet the criteria in the regulation cited above and a complete label record is maintained.

For more information regarding labeling and generic approval, please visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/labeling.

Webinars Scheduled to Discuss Final Rule on New Generic Labeling

Effective Jan. 6, 2014, FSIS expanded the circumstances in which labels may be considered “generically approved.” This new rule will allow establishments to label a broader range of products without first submitting the label to the agency for approval. Companies will still need to submit labels bearing certain claims, such as organic, natural or animal-raising, as well as labels for temporary approval; products produced under religious exemption; and export-only that bear labeling deviations. FSIS will continue to verify that labels are accurate, not misleading and in compliance with all labeling features.

FSIS will host webinars on this subject on January 14, January 28 and Feb. 11, 2014, all at 2 p.m. ET. To access the webinar, go to https://connect16.uc.att.com/usda/meet/?ExEventID=85277207 and follow the on-screen instructions. Please be sure to log on as a participant. For registration questions, contact Kristin Goodwin at (301) 504-0878 or kristin.goodwin@fsis.usda.gov.

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 http://askfsis.custhelp.com/ to view recently posted topics.

Nationwide Survey on Carcass Baseline

FSIS will launch a 12-month Nationwide Beef and Veal Carcass Baseline Survey (B-VCBS) to sample establishments that slaughter and process beef and veal carcasses. During this survey, FSIS will collect samples from the carcasses of steers, heifers, cows, bulls, stag, dairy cows and veal, including heavy calves, bob veal and non-formula fed and formula fed veal. Samples will be collected at two locations in the slaughter process, immediately after hide removal (pre-evisceration) and at pre-chill (after all anti-microbial interventions). Overall, approximately 4,000 samples will be scheduled.

This study will provide FSIS the data on percent positives and quantitative levels of select foodborne bacterial pathogens Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, non-O157 Shiga-toxin producing E. coli (STEC) and levels of indicator bacteria, including total bacteria (aerobic plate count), generic E. coli, coliforms and Enterobacteriaceae. Data obtained from B-VCBS will be used for the estimation of the national prevalence of the select pathogens, assessment of slaughter dressing procedures and process control, development of performance standards and for other policy considerations.

The study design and sampling plan for B-VCBS have been posted at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/5057f4ef-f924-422c-bafe-771b1ead78e4/Beef-Veal-Carcass-Baseline-Study-Design.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. The Baseline Data can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/microbiology/baseline/baseline.

The shakedown phase (training period) of this study runs from January 2014, and will last for approximately 90 days. During the shakedown phase of this study, FSIS will accept comments from all stakeholders on the study design and sampling plan via Regulations.gov. Based on stakeholder input, FSIS will consider adjustments to the final study design and sampling plan. During this phase, FSIS will prepare its personnel for the actual study, further refine the eligibility of the beef and veal carcass slaughter plants for inclusion in the study, and identify necessary modifications to the survey, analytical methods, and study design before conducting the actual 12-month survey.

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 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 Updates Several Residue Test Methods

FSIS intends to implement several Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook Methods for additional classes of animal tissue.

The agency updated a method, Screening and Confirmation of Animal Drug Residues by UHPLC-MS-MS, which will analyze for multiple drug classes. The update includes removal of the drug beta-dexamethasone and changing the applicability level for the drug ractopamine to 15 ppb. It also includes consolidating multiple standard levels for muscle screening to streamline sample analysis, and the method was extended to sheep and goat muscle and kidney.

Another method, Screening of Aminoglycosides by LC-MS-MS, is a new procedure which builds upon existing aminoglycoside methodology. This method is applicable for the analysis of kidney and muscle in several species (beef, pork, poultry, sheep and goat), as well as equine muscle.

These methods have been posted to the FSIS Chemistry Laboratory Guidebook. The agency intends to begin using the methods after February 10. To review the revisions to the guidebook, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/science/laboratories-and-procedures/guidebooks-and-methods/chemistry-laboratory-guidebook/chemistry-laboratory-guidebook.

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 84-13, The Federal Holidays in 2014
  • Notice 01-14, Verification Activities for Non-O157 Shiga Toxin-Producing Escherichia coli (Non-O157 STEC) Under MT60, MT52 and MT53 Sampling Programs
  • Notice 02-14, Verification of Carcasses That an Establishment Further Processes Without an Official Inspection Legend 
  • Directive 7221.1, Revision 1 Prior Labeling Approval 

About FSIS

FSIS is the public health agency in the USDA responsible for ensuring that the nation’s commercial supply of meat, poultry and processed egg products is safe, wholesome and correctly labeled and packaged.

Structure and Organization

Numerous offices  make up the agency, each playing a key role in protecting America’s food supply. To learn more, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/informational/aboutfsis/structure-and-organization/structure-and-organization.

Leadership

Agency leadership information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/informational/aboutfsis/agency-leadership.

Revised Listeria Compliance Guideline, Directive 10,240.4 Posted

FSIS is issuing a revised guidance, FSIS Compliance Guideline: Controlling Listeriamonocytogenes in Post-lethality Exposed Ready-to-Eat Meat and Poultry Products (Listeria Guideline), and revised instructions to the field in Directive 10,240.4, Verification Activities for the Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) Regulation and the Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Sampling Program

FSIS revised the guideline to address comments on the version that was issued in September 2012. FSIS also revised the guideline to provide new information on holding products pending FSIS test results.  Finally, FSIS revised the guideline to clarify that in addition to the Listeria Rule, establishments must meet other regulatory requirements, including the requirements of 9 CFR 416, Sanitation and 9 CFR 417, HACCP Systems. The guideline represents best practice recommendations by FSIS based on the best scientific and practical considerations and does not represent requirements that must be met.

FSIS revised the directive to clarify instructions for inspection program personnel for collecting samples under the RTEPROD sampling code; for verifying that establishments hold or control RTE products that FSIS has tested for pathogens, or that have passed over direct food contact surfaces that FSIS has tested for pathogens, pending the results of FSIS testing; and for collecting samples in establishments that temporarily alter their routine practices. The directive also provides new instructions for submitting samples when interventions such as high-pressure processing are applied and for verifying that establishments meet the requirements of the Listeria Rule when performing inspection tasks under the Public Health Information System.

Questions on the revised compliance guideline and directive can be submitted through askFSIS

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.

Update: FSIS Testing for E.coli

FSIS posts bi-weekly updates for the agency’s raw ground beef E. coli sampling program. Included are testing results of raw ground beef component samples for E. coli O157:H7 and STECs from FSIS routine and follow-up sampling programs. Also featured is data for non-O157 STECs by each non-O157 STEC serogroup.

Between June 4, 2012, and Dec. 31, 2013, FSIS laboratory services analyzed a total of 4,798 beef trim samples (4,173 domestic and 625 imported); 1,661 routine follow-up samples (1,547 domestic and 114 imported); and 28 non-routine follow-up/traceback samples. Sixty-eight samples were found to be positive; 33 were domestic trim samples; one was an imported trim sample; 32 were domestic follow-up samples; and two were non-routine follow-up/traceback samples. 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.