Constituent Update - July 2, 2021
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Posts Investigation Notice on Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Chicken Product
On July 2, 2021, the CDC published an investigation notice regarding a multistate outbreak of Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) that may be connected to precooked chicken products. FSIS Investigators are working to identify which precooked chicken products may be making people sick.
As of July 2, 2021, three cases of individuals infected with the outbreak strain of Lm have been reported. All three case patients exclusively consumed food items from either a long-term care facility or a hospital prior to illness onset.
More information on the CDC Investigation Notice and guidance for what long-term care facilities, hospitals, and high risk individuals should do can be found at: https://www.cdc.gov/listeria/outbreaks/precooked-chicken-07-21/index.html.
USDA Announces Efforts to Promote Transparency in Product of the USA Labeling
On July 1, 2021, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack released a statement announcing the Department’s initiative to review the “Product of USA” label for products regulated by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). This announcement follows the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) vote to strengthen its enforcement of the Made in USA standard.
The USDA has a long tradition of protecting consumers from false and misleading labels and recognize that producers depend upon those same labels to convey information about their products that consumers value and demand. The Department announced last year its intention to conduct its own rulemaking to address the concern that the voluntary “Product of USA” label may confuse consumers about the origin of FSIS regulated products. After considering comments received by the FTC and the USDA on this issue, the Department decided to initiate a top-to-bottom review of the “Product of USA” label to determine what it means to consumers. The USDA believes this review will enable the upcoming rulemaking on the topic, announced in the Biden-Harris Administration’s Spring Regulatory Agenda, to be comprehensive, effective, and lasting.
Read Secretary Vilsack’s statement at: https://www.usda.gov/media/press-releases/2021/07/01/usda-announces-efforts-promote-transparency-product-usa-labeling.
FSIS Retail Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) Pilot Project Update
On January 25, 2016, FSIS launched a multi-year nationwide pilot project to assess whether retail delicatessens (delis) are using the recommendations in the document titled FSIS Best Practices Guidance for Controlling Lm in Retail Delicatessens FSIS Retail (Lm Guidance). Since January 2016, FSIS investigators completed a total of 6,490 questionnaires in retail delis to determine the adoption rate of the recommendations. FSIS continues to track progress for this pilot project in its Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Plan and the FSIS Strategic Plan, FY 2017–2021.
In the second quarter of FY 2021, FSIS reviewed 323 questionnaires completed by investigators in retail delis. The Agency achieved its target with the retailers following 92% of the 33 recommendations over the previous 12 months (target 92%).
Additionally, under its strategic and annual plans, FSIS is tracking whether the retail delis assessed are following the top eight recommendations from the FSIS Retail Lm Guidance, which are listed on pages 1-2 of the FSIS Directive 10.310.1- Pilot Project: Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens.
In the second quarter of FY 2021, FSIS reviewed 311 questionnaires conducted by investigators in which all eight recommendations could be assessed. The Agency exceeded its target with 71% of retailers having reported to following all eight of the most important guidelines (target 63%). These results are similar to those of last fiscal year and quarter, with FSIS meeting or exceeding its targets for both measures.
Please refer questions regarding this update to the Office of Policy and Program Development by telephone at 1-800-233-3935 or electronically through askFSIS. If submitting questions electronically, please be sure to select “Sampling” in the drop-down menu for “Inquiry Type”.
FSIS Updates Research Priorities and Studies List
Since 2011, FSIS has annually updated a list of our research priorities and studies, with the goal of encouraging researchers and research funding agencies to work on these priorities and studies. This year’s list includes one new priority and eight new studies. Thirty studies have been removed from the list that had been completed or are no longer needed.
During review, FSIS determined that not all studies on the list involve research. Some studies are better classified as data gaps, where data are needed to inform FSIS policy and guidance documents. Collecting these data will benefit small and very small manufacturers of meat, poultry, and egg products. Other studies pertain to validating and optimizing new laboratory methods, with a view to their adoption in the FSIS laboratory system after the basic research has been completed. Therefore, FSIS revised the research study list into three categories: (1) Data Gaps; (2) Laboratory Detection Methods; and (3) Research Studies.
The new priority and studies are as follows:
New Priority: Evolution and Ecology of Foodborne Pathogens. Listed under Biological Hazards: Pathogen Characterization.
- Data Gaps
- Develop a predictive model for Bacillus cereus growth and toxin production in egg products
- Determine procedures to control pathogen growth throughout slaughter, dressing, and carcass chilling processes
- Determine the critical operating parameters to address gaps in the cooling of scalded offal to control the growth of perfringens
- Laboratory Detection Methods
- Develop novel mechanisms to detect Shiga toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) from meat, poultry, and egg products
- Use of Salmonella virulence markers as a risk management strategy for improving public health outcomes
- Research Studies
- Pathogen Characterization: Determine pre-harvest sources of Salmonella strains that cause recurrent or widespread outbreaks
- Chemical detection methods: Evaluate use of Lateral Flow Assays for in-plant residue screening
- Pathogen Characterization: Determine the presence and/or levels of human pathogens that FSIS does not currently test for, e.g., Shigella, Yersinia enterocolitica, Toxoplasma
For more information, please visit our webpage: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/science-data/research-priorities.
Tips for Faster Label Approval Process
Labels are currently taking about 5-7 business days to evaluate.
TIP: Establishments using the Label Submission and Approval System (LSAS) to submit meat, poultry, or egg product labels to FSIS for approval should review the LSAS User Guide for Industry Users for answers to questions about the label submission process.
LSAS users can find useful information on a variety of topics related to label submission in the LSAS User Guide for Industry Users available on the FSIS website. In addition to walking users through important information, such as system requirements and the LSAS enrollment process, the guide also walks through every step of the label submission process.
The guide also includes information related to questions frequently submitted to the LSAS Administrator, such as:
- How to grant LSAS access to a new employee? See page 25.
- How to search for previously approved label applications? See page 140.
- How to convert files to a readable format in LSAS prior to uploading? See page 165.
FSIS will continue to provide updates regarding label turnaround time, as well as suggestions to assist industry in streamlining label submissions in its Constituent Update.
Export Requirements Update
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated for products for the following:
- European Union
Complete information can be found at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/inspection/import-export/import-export-library.