[Federal Register Volume 79, Number 76 (Monday, April 21, 2014)]
[Notices]
[Pages 22082-22083]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office
[FR Doc No: 2014-08955]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. FSIS-2013-0038]


Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria monocytogenes in 
Retail Delicatessens

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of availability; request for public comments.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing 
the availability of the ``FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling 
Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens.'' The best-
practices guidance discusses steps that retailers can take to prevent 
listeriosis associated with the consumption of certain ready-to-eat 
(RTE) foods that are prepared or sliced in retail delicatessens (delis) 
and consumed in the home, such as deli meats and deli salads. FSIS 
encourages retailers to review the guidance and evaluate the 
effectiveness of their retail practices and intervention strategies in 
reducing the risk of listeriosis to consumers from RTE meat and poultry 
deli products. The Agency will consider all comments submitted and will 
revise the best-practices guidance as necessary.

DATES: Comments on the best-practices guidance should be submitted on 
or before June 20, 2014.

ADDRESSES: A downloadable version of the compliance guide is available 
to view and print at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/compliance-guides-index. No hard copies of the 
best-practices guidance have been published.
    FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on the best-
practices guidance. Comments on the best-practices guidance may be 
submitted by either of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: This Web site 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 on-line instructions at that site for 
submitting comments.
     Mail, including CD-ROMs, etc.: Send to Docket Room 
Manager, 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: Send to Docket Room 
Manager, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection 
Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW., Room 8-163B, Washington, 
DC 20250-3700.
    Instructions: All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must 
include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2013-0038. Comments 
received in response to this notice will be made available for public 
inspection and posted without change, including any personal 
information, to http://www.regulations.gov.
    Docket: For access to background documents or comments received, go 
to the FSIS Docket Room at Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E Street SW., Room 8-
164, Washington, DC 20250-3700 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday 
through Friday.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Rachel Edelstein, Assistant 
Administrator, Office of Policy and Program Development; Telephone: 
(202) 205-0495, or by Fax: (202) 720-2025.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:
    Lm is a bacterium that is found in moist environments, soil, and 
decaying vegetation and can persist along the food continuum. Transfer 
of the bacterium from the environment (e.g., deli cases, slicers, and 
utensils), employees, or contaminated food products is a particular 
hazard of concern in RTE foods, including meat and poultry products, 
because they generally receive no further processing for food safety 
before consumption. Listeriosis is a serious infection usually caused 
by eating food contaminated with Lm.
    To help minimize the public health burden of listeriosis, FSIS and 
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) conducted an interagency 
risk assessment to better understand the risk of foodborne illness 
associated with eating certain RTE foods prepared in retail delis and 
developed recommendations for changes in current practices that may 
improve the safety of those products. On May 13, 2013, FSIS and FDA 
made their findings available to the public in the draft ``Interagency 
Risk Assessment--Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens'' 
(Interagency Retail Lm Risk Assessment) (78 FR 27939; May 13, 2013). 
FSIS and FDA finalized the risk assessment in September 2013, and the 
updated document is available on FSIS's Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/science/risk-assessments.
    The key findings of the Interagency Retail Lm Risk Assessment 
include the following:
     Storage temperature. If all refrigerated RTE foods are 
stored at 41 degrees Fahrenheit (5 [deg]C) or below, as the 2013 FDA 
Food Code (3-501.16(A)(2)) recommends, at least nine percent of 
predicted listeriosis illnesses caused by contaminated deli products 
prepared or sliced in the retail deli could be prevented.
     Growth inhibitors. If all deli products that support Lm 
growth were reformulated to include a growth inhibitor, 96 percent of 
predicted listeriosis illnesses caused by RTE products prepared or 
sliced in the retail deli could be prevented.
     Control Cross-contamination. The predicted risk of 
listeriosis dramatically increases in retail delis as a result of 
cross-contamination. Slicers, in particular, are key sources of cross-
contamination in retail delis. Eliminating all points of cross-
contamination in the deli (including slicers) would decrease the 
predicted risk of illness from the consumption of RTE products prepared 
or sliced in the retail deli by approximately 34 percent.
     Control Contamination at its Source. Increased levels of 
Lm from incoming products and the environment (including potential 
niches), directly increase the predicted risk of illness. Therefore, 
elimination of environmental niches in the deli area will reduce the 
predicted risk of listeriosis from the consumption of RTE products 
prepared or sliced in the retail deli. Additionally, if levels of Lm on 
RTE foods (including foods that do not support the growth of Lm) that 
the retail deli receives from processing establishments were reduced by 
half, approximately 22 percent of the predicted listeriosis illnesses 
caused by contaminated deli products could be prevented.
     Continue Sanitation. Sanitation practices that eliminate 
Lm from food-contact surfaces reduce the predicted Lm levels in the 
deli area. Employees not wearing gloves while serving customers 
increases the predicted risk of listeriosis from the consumption of RTE 
products prepared or sliced in the retail deli by approximately five 
percent.
    Using these key findings along with available scientific knowledge, 
the 2013

[[Page 22083]]

FDA Food Code, and lessons learned from controlling Lm in FSIS-
inspected meat and poultry processing establishments, FSIS developed 
the ``FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Listeria 
monocytogenes (Lm) in Retail Delicatessens,'' which provides practical 
recommendations that retailers can use to control Lm contamination and 
outgrowth in the deli. Retailers can use the best-practices guidance to 
help ensure that RTE meat and poultry products in the deli area are 
handled under sanitary conditions and are not adulterated under the 
Federal Meat Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 601 et seq.) or the Poultry 
Products Inspection Act (21 U.S.C. 451 et seq.) (see 21 U.S.C. 623(d) 
and 464(e)). While these practices are specifically designed to control 
Lm, they also may help control other foodborne pathogens that may be 
introduced into the retail deli environment and other facilities where 
consumers take possession of food.
    The best practices are grouped in four sections: (1) Product and 
product handling, (2) cleaning and sanitizing, (3) facility and 
equipment controls, and (4) employee practices. Practices identified by 
the Interagency Retail Lm Risk Assessment that can significantly 
decrease the predicted risk of foodborne illness are highlighted in 
each section. The other practices that are based on scientific 
knowledge or lessons learned by FSIS are also included to help 
retailers increase Listeria control in the deli area. A self-assessment 
tool is provided for deli operators to help them identify the best 
practices they are using and to assess the need to adopt others. By 
following the best practices in the guidance and the 2013 FDA Food 
Code, retailers can help ensure that RTE products are not adulterated 
with Lm, and that the potential for listeriosis is decreased.
    FSIS has posted the best-practices guidance on its Web page (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/29d51258-0651-469b-99b8-e986baee8a54/Controlling-LM-Delicatessens.pdf?MOD=AJPERES) and is 
requesting comments on the guidance. It is important to note that the 
best-practices guidance does not replace the 2013 FDA Food Code or FSIS 
regulations. The best-practices guidance sets out recommendations 
rather than requirements. The Agency will consider all comments 
submitted and will revise the best-practices guidance as necessary.

USDA Nondiscrimination Statement

    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination 
in all its programs and activities on the basis of race, color, 
national origin, gender, religion, age, disability, political beliefs, 
sexual orientation, and marital or family status. (Not all prohibited 
bases apply to all programs.)
    Persons with disabilities who require alternative means for 
communication of program information (Braille, large print, audiotape, 
etc.) should contact USDA's Target Center at (202) 720-2600 (voice and 
TTY).
    To file a written complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Office 
of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue 
SW., Washington, DC 20250-9410 or call (202) 720-5964 (voice and TTY). 
USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

Additional Public Notification

    FSIS will announce this notice on-line through the FSIS Web page 
located at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/federal-register.
    FSIS also will make copies of this Federal Register publication 
available through the FSIS Constituent Update, which is used to provide 
information regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal 
Register notices, FSIS public meetings, and other types of information 
that could affect or would be of interest to constituents and 
stakeholders. The Update is communicated via Listserv, a free 
electronic mail subscription service for industry, trade groups, 
consumer interest groups, health professionals and other individuals 
who have asked to be included. The Update is available on the FSIS Web 
page. Through the Listserv and the Web page, FSIS is able to provide 
information to a much broader and more diverse audience.
    In addition, FSIS offers an email subscription service which 
provides automatic and customized access to selected food safety news 
and information. This service is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe. Options range from recalls to export information to 
regulations, directives, and notices. Customers can add or delete 
subscriptions themselves, and have the option to password protect their 
accounts.

    Done in Washington, DC on: April 1, 2014.
Alfred V. Almanza,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2014-08955 Filed 4-18-14; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 3410-DM-P