Constituent Update - October 8, 2021
USDA Announces Additional Funding to Expand Meat and Poultry Processing Capacity
On October 4, 2021, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA plans for an additional $100 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act – on top of the previously announced $500 million investment – to expand meat and poultry processing capacity and to finance other food supply chain infrastructure. These investments will help deliver more opportunities and fairer prices for farmers and address bottlenecks in the food supply chain revealed and exacerbated by the pandemic.
The Department is preparing to issue a notice to announce eligibility requirements, the application window, and how to apply as part of USDA’s Build Back Better Initiative, a comprehensive plan to invest $4 billion to strengthen the resiliency of America’s food supply chain while promoting competition.
Through this program, USDA will use the $100 million in funding to catalyze millions more in lending available for working capital, facilities, equipment, and other investments. The loan guarantees will help to start-up or expand entities in our food supply chain that aggregate, process, manufacture, wholesale or distribute food; address supply chain bottlenecks; and increase resiliency of the food supply chain.
For more details, view the full press release here.
Application Period Open for Pandemic Response and Safety Grant Program
On October 6, 2021, USDA announced a Request for Applications (RFA) for the new Pandemic Response and Safety (PRS) Grant program.
Approximately $650 million in funding is available for the PRS grants, which are funded by the Pandemic Assistance provided in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. The PRS Grant program will assist small businesses in certain commodity areas, including specialty crop producers, shellfish farming, finfish farming, aquaculture, and apiculture; specialty crop, meat, and other processors; distributors; and farmers markets. Small businesses and nonprofits in eligible industries can apply for a grant to cover COVID-related expenses, such as workplace safety measures (e.g., personal protective equipment, retrofitting facilities for worker and consumer safety, shifting to online sales platforms, transportation, worker housing, and medical costs). The minimum funding request is $1,500 and the maximum funding request is $20,000.
Applications must be submitted electronically through the PRS Grant Portal by 11:59 pm ET on November 22, 2021. The portal also provides more details on eligibility and the application process. Eligible entities are required to obtain a free DUNS Number here before applying for this program. For more information, interested parties can also reach out to the PRS help desk, Monday-Friday, 9:00 am – 9:00 pm ET at (301) 238-5550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
FSIS Extends Comment Period on the Labeling of Meat and Poultry Products Derived from Animal Cells
On September 2, 2021, FSIS announced an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit comments and information regarding the labeling of meat and poultry products made using cultured cells derived from animals under FSIS jurisdiction. FSIS will use these comments to inform future regulatory requirements for the labeling of such food products.
Having received several stakeholder requests to extend the comment period, the agency has decided to extend the comment period by an additional 30 days. The comment period will now end on December 2, 2021.
This extension should provide interested stakeholders sufficient time to submit comments and information regarding the labeling of meat and poultry products comprised of or containing cultured cells derived from amenable livestock and poultry. The public will also have an additional opportunity to comment on these issues during future rulemaking.
Temporary Allowances for Import Inspection Establishments
Under 9 CFR 327.6, 327.7, 381.199, 381.200, 590.925, and 590.930, all imported product under FSIS jurisdiction must be reinspected at an official import inspection establishment before it can enter the United States or before it can be moved to another location. However, FSIS recognizes that there are backups at ports because of complications related to the pandemic. Therefore, from October 8, 2021 to April 6, 2022, FSIS will temporarily allow imported product to be stored at warehouses for a period not to exceed 30 days, until the product can be reinspected at the import establishment.
Import establishments wishing to participate must submit a request to FSIS inspection program personnel at the import establishment that includes a plan detailing where and how the establishment will maintain control of product stored offsite. The establishment must keep and maintain a log identifying product held offsite. This log must include sufficient detail to identify each certificate and lot including documentation of case counts. Each lot held offsite must be delivered intact to the designated establishment for reinspection within 30 days of customs entry. FSIS will consider distribution of product from incidental storage prior to reinspection to be a prohibited act by the import establishment. In such cases, FSIS will withhold inspection immediately as provided in 9 CFR 500.3(a)(1) until the import establishment has taken corrective actions and may revoke offsite storage privileges.
FSIS expects that import establishments will use this 6-month time period to take appropriate action to minimize these problems in the future. FSIS will provide additional information updates in the future if necessary.
FSIS Adds Poland to List of Countries Eligible to Export Poultry Products to the U.S.
On October 7, 2021, FSIS announced that Poland is newly eligible to export poultry products to the United States. After extensive review, FSIS determined that Poland’s poultry laws, regulations, and inspection system achieve an equivalent level of protection as applied domestically in the U.S.
FSIS will continuously evaluate and verify the equivalence of Poland’s food safety inspection system through document reviews, on-site audits, and point-of-entry reinspection, as done for all countries exporting to the U.S.
For more information, please view the Federal Register notice.
FSIS Reviewing Comments on the Next Set of Establishment-Specific Datasets
In the August 20, 2021, Constituent Update, FSIS announced its intent to publish the next set of establishment-specific datasets and posted sample datasets and corresponding data documentation for Livestock Humane Handling and Poultry Good Commercial Practices inspection tasks. The Agency intended to publish the first datasets containing data from fiscal year (FY) 2021 Quarter 3 on October 8, 2021. FSIS is reviewing public comments on these datasets and will announce a revised date for their publication in a future Constituent Update. Subsequent postings will follow the regular posting schedule for establishment-specific datasets. New datasets are generally released the first Friday of the quarter. Existing datasets are updated quarterly.
FSIS to Post Updated Dataset on Import Refusals
On October 15, 2021, FSIS will update the publicly posted dataset on import refusals for products it regulates. Federal law requires every commercial shipment of imported meat, poultry, and egg products to be re-inspected prior to product entering U.S. commerce. FSIS re-inspects each shipment to verify labeling, proper certification, general condition, and any signs of tampering and to identify product adulterated by transportation damage. FSIS also performs additional activities on a random and/or for-cause basis, such as physical product examination and laboratory sampling for pathogens and chemical residues.
Any product that does not meet FSIS requirements is refused entry, and the importer has up to 45 days (30 days for egg products) to have the product destroyed for use as human food, re-exported/returned to the foreign country, converted to animal food, or brought into compliance with FSIS requirements, if applicable (e.g., relabeled, remarked, or issued a replacement certificate).
This dataset is updated around the 15th of each month and contains each shipment with product that was refused entry. To access these datasets or view more information about them, please visit the Import and Export Data page.
FSIS Reflects on 25 Years of HACCP
This year marks the 25th anniversary of FSIS’ landmark final rule, Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (PR/HACCP). On October 6, 2021, FSIS published an article reflecting on the science-based regulatory policies and laboratory testing programs that successfully modernized and enhanced food safety inspection in the United States. In August, FSIS published a related article reflecting on the impact of the PR/HACCP rule on public health, FSIS, and the industry. Read it here.
Tips for Faster Label Approval Process
Labels are currently taking about 5-7 business days to evaluate.
TIP: Meat and poultry products that require special handling must bear a compliant labeling statement on the principal display panel consistent with the processing procedures for the product.
Packaged products that require special handling to maintain their wholesome condition must have prominently displayed on the principal display panel the applicable handling statement “Keep Refrigerated,” “Keep Frozen,” or “Perishable—Keep Refrigerated or Frozen.” The regulations allow FSIS to approve additional phrases such as “Keep Refrigerated, May be Frozen” or “Keep Refrigerated, Can be Frozen” for products shipped under refrigeration.
Consumer-size containers holding products that are distributed frozen and thawed prior to or during display for sale must bear the statement “Previously Handled Frozen for Your Protection, Refreeze or Keep Refrigerated.”
Establishments submitting a label application for refrigerated or frozen products must ensure that the special handling statement on the label is consistent with the products’ processing procedures. For example, if the processing procedures for breaded chicken nuggets state that the product is stored frozen, but the label states “Keep Refrigerated,” this may cause FSIS to return the label to the submitter for clarification.
For additional information on special handling statements and other required label features, see the Label Submission Checklist.
FSIS will continue to provide updates regarding label turnaround time and suggestions to streamline label submissions in the Constituent Update.
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 42-21 - Cut-off Dates for Fiscal Year 2022 Purchases
FSIS Notice 43-21 - Eligibility of the Republic of Poland to Export Poultry and Poultry Products to the United States
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.