Constituent Update - July 25, 2014
USDA Proposes Rule to Protect Consumers and Track Sources of Ground Meats
FSIS is proposing to require that all makers of raw ground beef products keep records in order to further protect consumers by ensuring retailers can trace sources of ground meats.
“The improved traceback capabilities that would result from this proposal will prevent foodborne illness by allowing FSIS to conduct recalls of potentially contaminated raw ground products in a timelier manner,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Brian Ronholm. “By requiring retail outlets to maintain improved records on sources for ground products, the proposal will enable FSIS to quickly identify likely sources of contaminated product linked to an outbreak.”
Retail outlets regularly make ground beef by mixing cuts of beef from various sources. This proposal, if finalized, will require them to keep clear records identifying the source, supplier and names of all materials used in the preparation of raw ground beef products.
When foodborne illness outbreaks occur, public health officials work to trace ground beef product back to its source so that any potentially unsafe product can be identified and removed from commerce. Traceback investigations can be hindered when retail outlets produce ground beef by mixing product from various sources but fail to keep clear records that would allow investigators to determine which supplier produced the unsafe product.
FSIS has concluded that recordkeeping by retail facilities that grind raw beef to date, has not been sufficiently effective. In previous Federal Register notices, in the updated Food and Drug Administration Food Code, at industry meetings and in 2009 guidance provided at a retail industry association, FSIS has stressed the importance of maintaining appropriate records to aid in the identification of FSIS-regulated products associated with foodborne illnesses during recall traceback and traceforward or other food safety incidents.
This proposal is in keeping with the agency’s latest efforts to target its food safety prevention tools at areas that will have the most significant public health impact. In December 2013, FSIS unveiled its Salmonella Action Plan, which details steps the agency can take to reduce Salmonella contamination in meat and poultry products. Salmonella causes an estimated 1.4 million foodborne illnesses per year. Included in that plan are forthcoming pathogen reduction performance standards for ground poultry and poultry parts, which will reduce Salmonella, as well as Campylobacter, in popular chicken and turkey products. For more information, access the Salmonella Action Plan at www.fsis.usda.gov/salmonella.
The proposal is posted on the FSIS website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations/federal-register/proposed-rules and was published in the Federal Register. FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on this proposed rule electronically by going through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov, or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), FSIS, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3782, 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700. The comment period ends 60 days after the proposal publishes in the Federal Register.
FSIS to Implement PHR Criterion for Scheduling FSAs
FSIS uses a number of decision criteria to prioritize establishments for for-cause Food Safety Assessments (FSAs). These criteria are described in the agency’s Public Health Decision Criteria Report at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/fsis-data-analysis-and-reporting/data-reporting/public-health-regulations. At the meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI) in January 2013, FSIS presented its plans to implement an updated version of the W3NR criterion, now called Public Health Regulations (PHRs). In June 2013, FSIS implemented the PHR criterion.
This year, FSIS has analyzed the most current data and is revising the list of PHRs. Periodic analysis of the PHRs is one of the recommendations from the 2013 NACMPI report. FSIS is posting on its website the revised FY15 list of PHRs and their corresponding cut-points. The agency will implement this revised set of PHRs at the start of FY15.
New Generic Labeling, Webinar Scheduled; Updated Generic Labeling Q & A’s Published
In the final rule, effective Jan. 6, 2014, FSIS expanded the circumstances in which labels may be considered “generically approved,” allowing establishments to label a broader range of products without first submitting the label to the agency for approval. Companies will still need to submit the following labels to FSIS for prior label approval: labels bearing certain claims, such as organic, natural or animal-raising; claims labels for temporary approval; labels for products produced under religious exemption; and labels of product for export that bear labeling deviations.
FSIS recently expanded a series of questions and answers clarifying the new generic labeling regulations. The Q & A’s can be found on the FSIS website at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/labeling/labeling-policies/faq-generic-labeling.
FSIS will host a new webinar on this subject on July 29, 2014, at 2 p.m., ET. The updated webinar will provide an overview of the new generic labeling regulations, including additional information related to generic label approval not presented in previous webinars. The webinar will also cover new topics, such as required labeling features and a summary of label submission procedures. To access the webinar, go to https://www.teleconference.att.com/servlet/ATTClogin and follow the on-screen instructions. Use the following information when logging on: Meeting Number: 888-844-9904 Code:2956126.
Please be sure to log on as a participant. For registration questions, contact Kristin Goodwin at 301-504-0878 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Export Requirement Updates
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following countries:
Complete information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products.
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.
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 34-14, Resumption of Normal Sampling and Testing for Species in Imported Products
- Notice 35-14, On-Going Foreign Equivalence Verification Audits
- Directive 5620.1, Using AskFSIS
- Directive 6100.1, Ante-Mortem Livestock Inspection
- Directive 13000.2 - Revision 1, Performing Sampling Tasks in Official Establishments Using the Public Health Information System
FSIS Public Meetings and Events
View upcoming meetings and associated meeting materials listed by date on FSIS’ Public Meeting and Events website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/meetings. (Meetings that have concluded are listed on the Past Meetings page.) For meetings between agency officials and outside groups, see the Officials' Calendar of Meetings. The following meetings/events are upcoming:
Upcoming meetings related to Codex Alimentarius
Meetings Held In Washington, DC:
• Aug. 12, 2014: Codex Committee on Processed Fruits and Vegetables
• Sept. 23, 2014: Codex Committee on Food Labeling
• Sept. 25, 2014: Codex Committee on Food Import and Export Inspection Systems
• Oct. 23, 2014: Codex Committee on Food Hygiene
Meetings Held in Maryland:
• Oct. 28, 2014: Codex Committee on Nutrition and Foods for Special Dietary Use
2014 Meat, Poultry Inspection Seminar for International Government Officials
FSIS is pleased to announce the 2014 Meat and Poultry Inspection Seminar for International Government Officials. This seminar is scheduled for Sept.15-26, 2014, and will be held in Washington, DC. The location will be announced on a later date.
Food Safety Discovery Zone!
The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) is back on the road! From July 25-27, the FSDZ will be in Lowell, Massachusetts, at the Lowell Folk Festival.
The FSDZ is a 40-foot interactive vehicle that educates consumers about the four food safety messages --Clean, Cook, Separate and Chill-- from the Food Safe Families campaign. Some of the features in the vehicle include a Hand Washing Station, where visitors can learn the proper techniques to washing hands, and the Microscope Station that magnifies harmful bacteria.
Watch for announcements of upcoming events. For dates, times and more information, go to http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fsdz-schedule.
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. To learn more, visit http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/informational/aboutfsis.
New FSIS Publication
FSIS is announcing the publication of a new agency mission book — One Team, One Purpose — Protecting Public Health and Preventing Foodborne Illness. This publication provides a brief overview of how the agency prevents foodborne illness and protects public health. It can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/7a35776b-4717-43b5-b0ce-aeec64489fbd/mission-book.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.