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Minutes of the NACMCF Plenary Session, June 4, 2013

Patriot Plaza III 
355 E Street, S.W. 
First Floor (Auditorium) 
Washington, D.C. 20024

Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, NACMCF Chairperson and U.S. Department of Agriculture Under Secretary for Food Safety, opened the meeting at 10:17 am on Tuesday, June 4, 2013.  Dr. Hagen stated that this was the first full meeting of the 2013-2015 Committee. She welcomed and thanked the 22 new members and 8 returning members for their dedication, time, and hard work. She mentioned that NACMCF is one of the most respected scientific advisory committees.   Dr. Hagen stressed the importance of the two Committee work charges:  Control Strategies for Reducing Foodborne Norovirus Infections and the Study of Microbiological Criteria as Indicators of Process Control or Insanitary Conditions.   She mentioned that both of these issues being undertaken can improve the way foodborne pathogens are targeted and prevent illness.  Both projects can help our stakeholders address real challenges in today's food safety system.  Ultimately, most importantly, both of these studies can be used at the federal level to make decisions that will better protect Americans from foodborne illness.

Mr. Michael Landa, NACMCF Vice-Chairperson and Director, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, indicated that the Committee recommendations will help inform FDA and USDA on the best ways to address these pathogens and ultimately help reduce the number of foodborne illnesses associated with them. Mr. Landa stressed the importance of science and pointed out that NACMCF efforts will lead to foundational work. He noted that recommendations coming from an advisory committee are likely to become more widely and readily accepted than work any single agency can do independently.  This, making the work all the more important given the neutrality of the source and the various perspectives that the membership brings to this effort.  Mr. Landa acknowledged that NACMCF is an extremely dedicated group and expressed his appreciation to members for their time and willingness to serve.

Ms. Gerri Ransom, NACMCF Executive Secretary indicated that the Committee was at the start of a two-year term running through January 2015 and that the Committee charter runs through February 2015. She announced that Spencer Garrett, National Marine Fisheries Service, a longtime member of the NACMCF Executive Committee and NACMCF, retired in April.  She stressed how Spencer provided much leadership and expertise to NACMCF and that he would be greatly missed.  Spencer most recently chaired the Micro Criteria Subcommittee that completed a review of ground beef purchase for the School Lunch Program for the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Spencer also initiated the Micro Criteria project for the Department of Defense (DOD) which is to be continued with the current Committee.  Ms. Ransom introduced Dr. Calvin Walker as the new Department of Commerce liaison to NACMCF.

Ms. Ransom indicated that NACMCF would not start new work until the current projects were completed.  She mentioned that new charges were being developed, and that she would highlight one new charge since there has been much support and interest from members and others.  The project, Virulence Factors and Attributes that Define Foodborne Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli as Severe Human Pathogens is scheduled to go before the Committee next.  FDA developed the concept for this charge and it is being planned as a joint FDA, CDC, and FSIS charge.  This charge will dovetail with other current work on STECs.  The charge is currently being updated. 

Presentation of Reports

Dr. Carl Schroeder, AMS, Livestock, Poultry, and Seed Program, indicated that the AMS work was a good example of how NACMCF work is translated into policies to make food safer. Committee recommendations for AMS purchase of ground beef for School Lunch were adopted on 28th of March 2012 and within 2 months; AMS began implementing those recommendations for the upcoming school year purchases. NACMCF was asked to address three issues:

  1.   Discontinuation of testing for Staphylococcus aureus
    • NACMCF provided overwhelming scientific evidence that testing for Staph aureus could be discontinued - saving considerable resources.  
  2. Use of alternative screening procedures beyond those in the FSIS Microbiological Laboratory Guidebook 
    • NACMCF said yes to using alternative methods but recommended that all methods be tested and benchmarked against the FSIS Microbiological Laboratory Guidebook standards. 
  3. AMS overall plan 
    • NACMCF recommended that AMS discontinue testing for pathogens in product that is destined for cooking at an FSIS-inspected establishment. 
    • AMS should continue ongoing program reviews in consultation with FSIS and ARS to determine if requirements need to be strengthened for supplier eligibility, processing, etc. 

Dr. Schroeder indicated that their program is the largest microbiological testing program in the U.S. government, if not the world.  AMS will continue to work with food safety partners and stakeholders to strengthen the program. AMS feels that the recommendations from NACMCF strengthen the food safety of the products purchased for the School Lunch Program and Dr. Schroeder thanked the Committee for their work.

Dr. Uday Dessai, FSIS, past NACMCF member and Chair of the Subcommittee on Control Strategies for Reducing Foodborne Norovirus Infections, indicated that he Co-chaired the past subcommittee with Dr. Kelly Bunning of FDA who carried the major share of responsibilities. The subcommittee heard from federal and external partners to learn the state of science on Norovirus. The subcommittee broke into work groups (WGs) as follows:

  • WG1, covering burden and attribution of disease (charge questions 1 & 2), summarized published estimates of disease burden of human Norovirus, including the faction of illnesses transmitted through foods.
  • WG2, focusing on mitigation and control (charge questions 3, 4, 6 & 7), assessed relevant references and available research and identified information gaps.
  • WG 3, covering detection methods/surrogates (charge question 5), summarized current methods and conceptualized attributes for an ideal detection method for Norovirus.
  • WG 4,  focusing on risk assessment (question 8),  drafted a general framework to answer the charge question and reviewed ongoing risk assessment efforts to draft risk management questions that would initiate the scope of need for a risk assessment from the points of view of industry, Federal regulators, and consumers.
  • WG 5, consisting of the entire subcommittee, had plans to meet at a future time to address recommendations for a generic facility control plan that can serve as a starting point for developing facility-specific plans.  

Dr. Dessai mentioned that due to breaks in the Committee the Norovirus project is about half complete so that a hard timeline for completion will not be set but a goal could be to be done by September. However he acknowledged that the team needs to access work status to determine the time needed to finish. Drs. Margaret Hardin and Dave Gombas were acknowledged as the NACMCF members assuming Chairpersonships for this subcommittee.

Ms. Angela Ruple, past and continuing member of the Subcommittee on Study of Microbiological Criteria as Indicators of Process Control or Insanitary conditions,  summarized the subcommittee charge and work progress. The group reviewed a number of criteria set by national and international organizations and established related specific food group categories and divided into working groups to address the specific questions. 

The basic food categories were identified as ready-to-eat foods processed with lethality, ready-to-eat foods in combination with cooked/uncooked foods, ready-to-eat raw foods, and not ready-to-eat raw foods.        

The first work group was established to look at the processing considerations and they designed flow diagrams for processing of each of the food commodities in the categories.  Steps within each of the processes were identified where controls might be put into place and where criteria might fit. The second work group was to address Questions 2, 3, and 4, covered indicators, both those that are currently used by DOD, as well as those that may be new, or that could potentially be used.  That group reviewed available literature and established a table applying the criteria developed by these different groups to the commodities that had been identified.  The third work group was looking at sampling plans and established a table comparing sampling plans and how they could be used within the food commodities identified. 

In closing Ms. Ruple said that the group is very happy to have Drs. Jeff Kornacki and Skip Seward as new subcommittee leaders, and that the group is looking forward to working with them. 

Public Comments

No comments were received from members of the public.

Close

Ms. Ransom adjourned the meeting at 11:23 am on Tuesday June 4, 2013.

A list of NACMCF members and outside participants in attendance follows. Further meeting details are available in the June 4, 2013 meeting transcript at: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/nacmcf/meetings/nacmcf-meetings

June 4, 2013 NACMCF Meeting Participants

  • Chairperson: Dr. Elisabeth Hagen
  • Vice-chairperson:  Mr. Michael Landa
  • NACMCF Members:
    • Dr. Arun Bhunia
    • Dr. Wafa Birbari
    • LTC Robert Dole
    • Dr. David Gombas
    • Dr. Larry Goodridge
    • Ms. Susan Vaughn Grooters
    • Dr. Margaret Hardin
    • Dr. Scott Hood
    • Dr. Dallas Hoover
    • Dr. Steven Ingham
    • Dr. Jeffery Kornacki
    • Dr. Robert LaBudde
    • Dr. Richard Linton
    • Dr. Guy Loneragan
    • Dr. Evelyne Mbandi
    • Dr. Peter Muriana
    • Dr. Nandini Natrajan
    • Dr. Alison O’Brien
    • Dr. Wilfredo Ocasio
    • Dr. Mickey Parish
    • Dr. Salina Parveen
    • Dr. Ruth Petran
    • Dr. Jennifer Quinlan
    • Ms. Angela Ruple
    • Dr. Stacey Schultz-Cherry
    • Dr. Robert Seward
    • Dr. Robert Tauxe
  • NACMCF Executive Committee:
    • Dr. Arthur Liang, CDC Liaison
    • Dr.  Marianna Naum, FDA Liaison
    • COL Bradford Hildabrand, DOD Liaison
    • Dr. Calvin Walker, NOAA Liaison
  • FSIS Staff Members
    • Dr. Uday Dessai, OPHS, Director Science Staff
    • Ms. Gerri Ransom, Executive Secretary
    • Ms. Karen Thomas, Advisory Committee Specialist
    • Mr. Jude Smedra, Technical Assistant to NACMCF

Minutes certified by Dr. Elisabeth Hagen.

Last Modified Sep 26, 2013