Constituent Update - March 24, 2023
Expansion of Generic Label Approval Now Effective
On March 20, 2023, the Prior Label Approval System: Expansion of Generic Label Approval final rule became effective. FSIS will now only review three categories of labels: labels for temporary approval, labels for religious exempt product, and labels with special statements and claims.
Through the final rule, FSIS has eliminated the voluntary second priority labeling pool and, moving forward, will no longer evaluate generically approved labels that establishments voluntarily submit for FSIS review. Any labels submitted for review that are eligible for generic approval will be returned to the submitter.
Labels with “uncured” claims can be generically approved provided there are no other claims on the label that require submission for approval. Although “uncured” claims were initially listed as a special statement or claim in Appendix 1 in the draft FSIS Guideline for Label Approval that was released for public comment, FSIS will be updating the guideline to reflect this change. The updated guideline will be released after completing review of all comments submitted.
Questions may be directed to the FSIS labeling and program delivery staff through ASKFSIS. More information on labeling and label approval is available on the FSIS website.
Deadline Extended to Submit Nominations for Membership on Food Safety Advisory Committee
As announced in the February 3, 2023, Constituent Update, USDA is soliciting nominations for membership to the National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF). The deadline to submit nomination packages was originally March 15, 2023. FSIS has extended the deadline to April 17, 2023.
There are 15 vacancies on the advisory committee. USDA is seeking nominees with scientific expertise in the fields of microbiology, risk assessment, epidemiology, public health, food science, and other relevant disciplines. More information and instructions on how to submit nominations are detailed in the Federal Register notice.
NACMCF has made important contributions to a broad range of critical food safety issues. Committee reports provide current information and scientific advice to federal food safety agencies and serve as a foundation for regulations and programs aimed at reducing foodborne disease and enhancing public health. The committee is currently addressing Cronobacter spp. in powdered infant formula for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and anticipates an FSIS charge related to the benefits of genomic characterization of pathogens. Federal food safety agencies involved with NACMCF include FSIS, FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Commerce National Marine Fisheries Service, and the Department of Defense Veterinary Services.
Reinstatement of Paraguay’s Food Safety Equivalence and Proposed Rule Allowing Fresh Beef Imports
In 1997, FSIS halted all imports of beef from Paraguay because the country did not implement requirements to be equivalent under FSIS’ final rule, “Pathogen Reduction; Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems.” Since then, FSIS has held technical discussions with Paraguayan officials and conducted audits to determine whether Paraguay’s food safety inspection system for meat is equivalent to the United States’ inspection system.
Specifically, FSIS reviewed Paraguay’s documented food safety inspection program for raw intact beef and conducted onsite verification audits of its beef slaughter and raw further processing from November 1-17, 2021, and July 11-22, 2022. FSIS concluded that Paraguay’s food safety inspection system for raw beef products is equivalent to that of the U.S. For more information, please view the 2021 and 2022 audit reports.
Although Paraguay may be listed on the FSIS website as eligible to export raw intact beef products to the U.S., Paraguay must also comply with all other applicable requirements, including those of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) before any products can enter the U.S.
APHIS has announced the publication of a proposed rule that would allow the importation of fresh beef from Paraguay. APHIS determined that FSIS can safely allow import of fresh beef from Paraguay under certain conditions, including that foot and mouth disease (FMD) has not been diagnosed in the exporting region in the past 12 months, the meat comes from premises where FMD has not been present during the lifetime of any of the animals, and that the animals were inspected before and after slaughter, among others. APHIS will address all comments received and issue a final rule with the ultimate decision on importation of fresh beef from Paraguay. Paraguay cannot export these products to the U.S. until APHIS finalizes this rule.
Available for Public Comment
FSIS seeks public comments on proposed rules and notices, which are viewable on the FSIS Federal Register & Rulemaking webpage. FSIS is currently seeking comments on the following:
- Until May 1: Notice of Request To Renew an Approved Information Collection: Advanced Meat Recovery
- Until May 1: Notice of Request To Renew an Approved Information Collection: Voluntary Destruction of Imported Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products
- Until May 1: Notice of Request To Renew an Approved Information Collection: Nutrition Labeling of Major Cuts of Single-Ingredient Raw Meat or Poultry Products and Ground or Chopped Meat and Poultry Products
- Until May 1: Notice of Request To Renew an Approved Information Collection: Sanitation SOPs and Pathogen Reduction/HACCP
- Until May 8: Notice of Request To Renew an Approved Information Collection: Procedures for the Notification of New Technology and Requests for Waivers
- Until May 12: Voluntary Labeling of FSIS-Regulated Products with U.S.-Origin Claims
FSIS notices and directives on public health and regulatory issues are available on the FSIS Policy webpage. The following policy update was recently issued:
FSIS Notice 13-23 - Disposal of Expired Tuberculosis Test Kits
FSIS Directive 3840.1 - E-Travel System – Expense Receipt Requirements
Export Requirements Update
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated for products for the following:
- Solomon Islands
- New Caledonia
- New Zealand
- European Union
- Costa Rica
Complete information can be found at the FSIS Import & Export Library.