Constituent Update - December 17, 2021
FSIS Publishes Updated Cooking and Cooling Guidelines for Meat and Poultry Products
On December 14, FSIS updated two of its guidelines concerning eliminating Salmonella and other pathogens during cooking of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products (lethality) and the control of pathogen growth in heat-treated RTE and not-ready-to-eat (NRTE) meat and poultry products during cooling and hot-holding (stabilization). These updates were informed by review and consideration of all comments made during the open comment period on the previous versions of the guidelines.
The two updated guidelines include:
- FSIS Cooking Guideline for Meat and Poultry Products (Revised Appendix A)
- FSIS Stabilization Guideline for Meat and Poultry Products (Revised Appendix B)
These guidelines advise small and very small establishments on the best practices for eliminating Salmonella from RTE meat and poultry products (lethality) and for preventing or limiting the growth of spore-forming Clostridial pathogens (stabilization) during the cooling or hot-holding of RTE and NRTE meat and poultry products.
If an establishment has been using previous versions of these guidelines in support of its lethality or stabilization controls, the establishment should review the revisions to the guidelines and make any adjustments to its Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system necessary to continue producing safe meat and poultry products. Establishments will have one year from the publication of the new guidelines to update their HACCP systems. FSIS will then verify that establishments that had been voluntarily using previous versions of Appendix A and B are instead using the 2021 updated versions of these guidelines or have identified alternative scientific support for their cooking and cooling processes, making changes to their HACCP systems as needed. Establishments will need to use the latest version of the guidelines as support because the previous versions are outdated. Establishments that choose to use the guidelines as support will have one year from the publication of the new guidelines to update their HACCP systems.
FSIS continues to improve guidelines related to food safety and ensure that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, and accurately labeled. FSIS will continue to update these documents, as necessary, to ensure that small and very small establishments have access to a full range of scientific and technical support, and the resources needed to establish safe and effective HACCP systems to protect public health. Click here for more information.
Reminder: FSIS Seeking Proposals for Pilot Projects to Control Salmonella in Poultry Slaughter and Processing Establishments
FSIS is inviting poultry slaughter and processing establishments to submit proposals for pilot projects that will test different control strategies for Salmonella contamination in poultry products. Pilot projects will last for a defined period of time, during which establishments will experiment with new or existing pathogen control and measurement strategies and share data collected during the pilots with FSIS. The data will be analyzed by FSIS to determine whether it supports changes to FSIS’ existing Salmonella control strategies.
FSIS Updates Laboratory Method for Canned Meat and Poultry Products
FSIS has recently completed a full revision of Microbiology Laboratory Guidebook (MLG) Chapter 10 “Examination of Canned and Aseptically Processed, Hermetically Sealed Meat and Poultry Products”. The canned food analysis chapter has been updated to clarify the method flow for laboratory analysts and includes specific reporting timeline expectations during the laboratory investigation. Although the key steps of the actual laboratory investigation remain unchanged, the entire method is presented in a new user-friendly format that clearly delineates the physical evaluation of a hermetically sealed container and the concurrent microbiological examination of container contents. This format includes updated process flowcharts, an updated laboratory equipment table, and links to important container analysis resources.
The FSIS laboratory system performs analyses of canned and other hermetically sealed food containers that are identified as potentially defective or abnormal. This type of analysis may be necessary following establishment process verification activities or import reinspection examinations. The FSIS laboratory method for canned food analysis is a complex investigation that includes both a thorough physical examination to identify possible defects of suspect containers as well as a microbiological examination of container contents.
The revised MLG 10 chapter is available on the FSIS website.
FSIS Posts After-Action Review for E. coli O103 Outbreak Linked to Ground Beef
FSIS has posted on its website an after-action review report for a 2019 outbreak investigation of E. coli O103 illnesses associated with ground beef. Public health officials in multiple states, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and FSIS investigated an outbreak of 209 E. coli O103 illnesses linked to ground beef. An extensive traceback investigation identified over 250 firms potentially associated with the outbreak (including purchase locations, distributors, and establishments), but did not identify a common source of ground beef consumed by ill people. This outbreak highlights the importance of adequate recordkeeping throughout the ground beef supply chain to allow for traceability.
The purpose of FSIS outbreak investigation after-action review reports is to share lessons learned with industry and public health partners to help prevent illnesses and improve response.
Ireland and the UK Eligible to Export Raw Sheep Products to the United States
Ireland and the United Kingdom (UK) are eligible to export raw sheep products to the United States, effective January 3, 2022. FSIS had previously granted reinstatements of equivalence to Ireland and the UK for their respective raw sheep products food safety inspection systems based on the assessment of their self-reporting tool documentation and in-country verification audits:
- The in-country verification audit for Ireland was conducted from September 11-29, 2017 with corrective actions submitted in response to the audit findings. Ireland was granted a reinstatement of equivalence on April 12, 2019.
- The in-country verification audit for the UK was conducted from July 15 - August 2, 2019. The UK was granted a reinstatement of equivalence on March 6, 2020.
However, the two countries had been ineligible to export raw sheep products to the U.S. due to animal health restrictions imposed by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) related to bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE). The APHIS BSE-related import regulations prohibited the importation of most live sheep and goats, and most sheep and goat products, from countries considered a risk for BSE. These regulations remained in effect through each country’s reinstatement of equivalence and prevented their eligibility to export raw sheep products to the U.S.
On December 3, 2021, APHIS published the final rule removing the BSE-related restrictions on imports of live domestic sheep, goats, and small ruminants, as well as most sheep and goat products. This rule has an effective date of January 3, 2022. Ireland and the UK, therefore, will be eligible to export to the U.S. raw sheep and mutton products produced from small ruminants slaughtered and certified for export on and after January 3, 2022. FSIS will update the Import/Export Library page for Ireland and the UK on the FSIS website to reflect this change.
FSIS Revises Public Health Regulations Report
In response to comments received at the fiscal year (FY) 2022 Public Health Regulations (PHRs) Webinar on October 7, 2021, FSIS published a revised version of the FY 2022 PHR Report on December 17, 2021. Please note that the list of PHRs for FY 2022 has not changed. The updated report contains a list of its revision history at the end of the document.
Click here to view the revised report.
FSIS to Post Individual Category Status and Aggregate Results for Poultry Carcasses, Chicken Parts, and Comminuted Poultry Tested for Salmonella
On December 20, 2021, FSIS will update the individual establishment Salmonella performance standard category information for raw poultry carcasses, raw chicken parts, and comminuted poultry products on the Salmonella Verification Testing Program Monthly Posting page. Additionally, FSIS will post the aggregate sampling results showing the number of establishments in categories 1, 2, or 3 for establishments producing young chicken or turkey carcasses, raw chicken parts, or not ready-to-eat comminuted poultry products at the location linked above.
Tips for Faster Label Approval Process
Labels are currently taking about 5-7 business days to evaluate.
TIP: When FSIS makes changes to a label submitted voluntarily that is eligible for generic approval, the establishment does not need to resubmit the label to FSIS for approval. After making necessary changes, the label is generically approved and can be applied to product immediately.
Many labels applied to meat and poultry products are eligible for generic approval since these labels do not fall into any of the four categories of labels that require approval by FSIS described in the Code of Federal Regulations. Any label for which prior approval by FSIS is not required and that is fully compliant is generically approved.
Currently, establishments may voluntarily submit labels eligible for generic approval to FSIS for evaluation. FSIS evaluation is not required for these labels; therefore, the label application is automatically designated as second priority and will be evaluated as resources permit. When FSIS evaluates and returns a second priority label either approved or not approved to the establishment and identifies changes that need to be made to the label, the label does not need to be resubmitted to FSIS. If an establishment elects to resubmit a second priority label application after it makes the necessary changes to the label, the label goes to end of the second priority pool and will then be evaluated in the order in which it was received. The most expedient course of action would be to incorporate the necessary changes to bring the label into full compliance and not resubmit the label to FSIS. Once brought into full compliance, the label can be used.
Questions about reasons for return noted in the label application should be directed to the staff officer that evaluated the label or submitted through askFSIS.
For more information about the kinds of labels that are eligible for generic approval, please see the FSIS Compliance Guide for Label Approval.
FSIS notices and directives on public health and regulatory issues are available on the FSIS Policy webpage. The following policy updates were recently issued:
FSIS Notice 59-21 - Availability of 2021 Cooking Guideline (Revised Appendix A) and Stabilization Guideline (Revised Appendix B) and Extension of Delayed Implementation of Verification
FSIS Directive 9910.1 - Barcodes in Lieu of Shipping Marks for Fresh Meat Products From Australia
Export Requirements Update
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated for products for the following:
Complete information can be found at the FSIS Import & Export Library.