Constituent Update - July 30, 2021
Updates to Mask Requirements for FSIS Employees
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced this week Interim Public Health Recommendations for Fully Vaccinated People in response to a national increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations due to the highly transmissible Delta variant. The CDC guidance recommends that fully vaccinated people wear a mask in public indoor settings in areas of “substantial” or “high” transmission.
Due to the highly dispersed nature of the FSIS workforce, FSIS is making a uniform change to mask requirements for all FSIS field and headquarters employees. On July 28, 2021, FSIS issued direction that all of its employees are now required to wear a mask in Federal buildings, regulated establishments, retail facilities, and government owned or leased vehicles regardless of vaccination status. Face masks may only be removed while eating or if employees are alone in an FSIS office or vehicle. The CDC guidance and the highly contagious Delta variant makes clear that masking indoors is the best practice and the safest thing to do.
There will be no change to requirements for wearing face shields. If an FSIS employee is fully vaccinated and protective equipment is not required by the establishment or facility, that employee would not be required to wear a face shield. FSIS employees who are not fully vaccinated must continue to wear a face shield and mask and practice social distancing.
FSIS Posts Quarterly Updates
On July 30, 2021, FSIS posted the following quarterly updates:
- Updated Quarterly Sampling Results
- Quarterly Sampling Reports for Salmonella Serotype and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) Information
- Updated Quarterly Sampling Reports on Antimicrobial Resistance Profile (ARP)
Please view the July 23, 2021 Constituent Update for more information.
FSIS Proposes to End Voluntary Pet Food Certification Program
FSIS is proposing to end its voluntary pet food certification program because it is outdated, underutilized, and redundant, which has led to industry and consumer confusion.
The current regulations allow for FSIS inspectors to provide a fee-for-service certification that verifies certain pet foods are produced under sanitary conditions and meet compositional and labeling requirements. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), however, holds the regulatory responsibility for ensuring that pet food is safe for animals, produced under sanitary conditions, contains no harmful substances, and is truthfully labeled. Given the confusion surrounding FSIS’ underutilized voluntary program, both agencies agree that stakeholders will benefit from the simplification of federal jurisdiction over pet food. This rule would clarify that FDA has sole federal jurisdiction over pet food inspection.
FSIS is seeking public comments on the proposed rule until September 27, 2021. For more information and instructions on how to comment, please view the proposed rule at: https://www.federalregister.gov/public-inspection/2021-15438/certified-products-for-dogs-cats-and-other-carnivora-inspection-certification-and-identification-as.
NACMCF Reports Available
FSIS is announcing the availability of two reports that were adopted by the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) at the April 22, 2021, plenary session. These reports outline recommendations to the FDA- and FSIS-regulated industry.
The available reports include:
- “Microbiological Testing by Industry of Ready-to-Eat Foods Under FDA’s Jurisdiction for Pathogens (or Appropriate Indicator Organisms): Verification of Preventive Controls”
- “The Use of Water in Animal Production, Slaughter, and Processing”
The reports are available at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/node/2262.
Tips for Faster Label Approval Process
Labels are currently taking about 5-7 business days to evaluate.
TIP: FSIS does not view the addition of a contains allergen statement (e.g., ‘‘contains soy’’) applied to meat or poultry labels as a special statement or claim that requires sketch approval by the Labeling and Program Delivery Staff (LPDS). Such statements are generically approved if they are truthful and not misleading.
There are many foods and food ingredients to which some individuals may have some degree of intolerance or possible allergic reaction. Therefore, complete and accurate labeling is critically important. All ingredients in meat and poultry products must be listed on the label in the ingredients statement, ensuring all allergens will be listed on the product label. The 2004 Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act (FALCPA) requires that products under the jurisdiction of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that contain a major food allergen clearly identify the allergen on the label (Public Law 108-282, Title II). While a complete list of all ingredients must be clearly listed on the label in the ingredients statement, the supplementary “contains” allergens FALCPA labeling statements are not required on meat and poultry products under FSIS jurisdiction. FSIS supports practices that promote accurate, informative product labeling, including voluntary statements on labels that alert people to the presence of specific ingredients, consistent with FALCPA requirements.
For example, a phrase such as "Contains: milk, wheat, soy" may be added on labeling immediately following the ingredients statement, and FSIS would generically approve that statement. Additionally, FSIS would generically approve further clarification of the source of a specific ingredient in a parenthetical statement in the ingredients statement, e.g., "whey (from milk)." This type of parenthetical statement would likely provide consumers with a more recognizable term. As stated in the “Prior Label Approval System: Generic Label Approval Final Rule” (78 FR 66826; Nov. 7, 2013), such statements may be added to a label generically because they are not considered a special statement or claim.
For additional information about allergen control and labeling please see the following FSIS guideline “Allergens and Ingredients of Public Health Concern: Identification, Prevention and Control, and Declaration through Labeling” at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/sites/default/files/import/Allergens-Ingredients.pdf
For additional information on other factual statements and claims which may be applied generically to a label see Appendix 2 in the “FSIS Compliance Guideline for Label Approval”: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/guidelines/2017-0011
FSIS will continue to provide updates regarding label turnaround time, as well as suggestions to assist industry to streamline label submissions in its Constituent Update.
Export Requirements Update
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated for products for the following:
- United Arab Emirates
- Western Samoa (Samoa)
Complete information can be found at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/inspection/import-export/import-export-library.
FSIS notices and directives on public health and regulatory issues are available at: https://www.fsis.usda.gov/policy/directives-notices. The following policy update was recently issued:
FSIS Notice 29-21 - Availability of Four Industry Guidance Documents