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Constituent Update - October 17, 2014

Meat Slaughter Industry Survey

FSIS is conducting a survey of the meat slaughter and processing industry to add to FSIS’ understanding of the practices and technologies used to control pathogens and promote food safety. Additionally, FSIS will compare the results to a similar survey the agency conducted in 2004 in order to assess food safety and technology adoption trends over time. 

The survey, contracted with Research Triangle Institute (RTI) International, will be sent to eligible beef and pork slaughter establishments nationwide starting mid-November through the beginning of February. As it has done with other surveys that it has conducted for Federal agencies, RTI International will report individual responses to this survey to FSIS, but it will use data masking techniques so that individual establishments cannot be identified.

The results of the survey will be reported to the public only in summary form, so that individual responses or respondents cannot be identified. Those who respond to the survey will receive a summary report of the survey results.

For more information about the survey, contact Gary Noyes at (301) 504-3672 or at Gary.Noyes@fsis.usda.gov.  

FDA’s 2014 Food Safety Challenge

Readers of the Constituent Update may be interested in knowing about the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) launch of its first Food Safety Challenge. The challenge is aimed at strengthening the nations’ food supply by fostering innovation in technologies that will more quickly detect pathogens in produce.

The first challenge will focus on Salmonella, which is one of the most pervasive food-safety problems facing both of our agencies. Through this innovation challenge, FDA wants to engage with others outside the agency who are not traditionally working in food safety—be they scientists, academicians, entrepreneurs, innovators, engineers or physicists—to find an ingenious approach to this problem, so they can detect the disease-causing bacteria before it reaches the consumer.

The challenge is open to U.S. citizens and permanent residents 18 and older and to entities incorporated in and maintaining a primary place of business in the United States, with certain exclusions for federal entities, employees and grantees. Participants will submit cutting-edge techniques to speed detection of Salmonella in produce. Their work will be evaluated by experts in food safety and foodborne pathogen detection from FDA, CDC and the USDA. The winners (and there could be more than one) will share a total prize pool of $500,000.

FDA’s Food Safety Challenge creates an avenue for ideas and dialogue, and they want to learn from others and adapt best practices so consumers can continue to trust the foods they eat.

Information on the challenge can be found at www.foodsafetychallenge.com, in the Federal Register Notice https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/09/24/2014-22682/announcement-of-requirements-and-registration-for-the-2014-food-and-drug-administration-food-safety, and in FDA’s news release at http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm415831.htm.

New Generic Labeling Webinar Scheduled; Updated Generic Labeling Q & A’s Published

Effective Jan. 6, 2014, FSIS expanded the circumstances in which labels may be considered “generically approved,” allowing establishments to label a broader range of products without first submitting the label to the agency for approval. Companies will still need to submit the following labels to FSIS for prior label approval: labels bearing certain claims, such as organic, natural or animal-raising; claims labels for temporary approval; labels for products produced under religious exemption; and labels of product for export that bear labeling deviations.

FSIS recently expanded a series of questions and answers clarifying the new generic labeling regulations. The Q & A’s can be found on the FSIS website at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/labeling/labeling-policies/faq-generic-labeling.

FSIS will host a webinar on this subject on Oct. 21, 2014, at 2 p.m., ET. The updated webinar will provide an overview of the new generic labeling regulations, including additional information related to generic label approval. The webinar will also cover new topics, such as required labeling features and a summary of label submission procedures. To access the webinar, go to https://www.teleconference.att.com/servlet/ATTClogin and follow the on-screen instructions. Use the following information when logging on: Meeting Number: 888-844-9904 Code:2956126.

Please be sure to log on as a participant. For questions, contact Kristin Goodwin at 301-504-0878 or kristin.goodwin@fsis.usda.gov.

FSIS Policy Updates

FSIS issues notices and directives to protect public health. All notices and directives are available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulations. The following policy updates were recently issued:

  • Notice 52-14, Special Provisions for the End of The Leave Year
  • Notice 53-14, Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection

Export Requirement Updates

The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following countries:

  • China
  • Hong Kong (Egg Products)

Complete information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products

FSDZ on the Road Again

The USDA’s Food Safety Discovery Zone (FSDZ) is back on the road! The FSDZ will be in Little Rock, Ark., at the Arkansas State Fair today through Sunday. Starting October 23, the FSDZ will be in Shreveport, La., at the State Fair of Louisiana.

The FSDZ is a 40-foot interactive vehicle that educates consumers about the four food safety messages--Clean, Cook, Separate and Chill--from the Food Safe Families campaign. Some of the features in the vehicle include a Hand Washing Station, where visitors can learn the proper techniques to washing hands, and the Microscope Station that magnifies harmful bacteria. 

Watch for announcements of upcoming events. For dates, times and more information, go to http://www.fsis.usda.gov/fsdz-schedule.