Constituent Update - November 14, 2014
Hog HIMP Evaluation Posted
Today, FSIS posted on its website the Market Hog HIMP Evaluation. The objective of this report is to evaluate FSIS’ inspection findings in market hog slaughter establishments participating in the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Inspection Models Project (HIMP) and to determine whether the HIMP inspection system is performing as well as the existing inspection system.
The evaluation compares all five HIMP market hog establishments with a comparison set of 21 non-HIMP market hog slaughter establishments. Based on the initial findings in the report, the food safety outcomes at the pilot facilities are on par with those operating under other inspection systems. However, additional analyses, including a science-based risk assessment, will be required to determine its impact on foodborne illness rates, and whether this pilot program could be applied to additional establishments. The report can be found by following this link: http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/f7be3e74-552f-4239-ac4c-59a024fd0ec2/Evaluation-HIMP-Market-Hogs.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.
NPIS Questions and Answers Now Available on FSIS Website
Answers to questions the agency has received from industry regarding the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) are now posted on the FSIS website at www.fsis.usda.gov/poultryinspection. Additional questions can be sent to askNPIS@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 60-14, FSIS Sampling Data Reporting Through LIMS-Direct
- Notice 61-14, Clarification of Re-Inspection Procedures for Product Presented for Export at Official establishments
- Notice 62-14, Telework and Office Coverage
- Notice 63-14, Verifying Donation of Misbranded and Economically Adulterated Meat and Poultry Products
- Directive 7120.1 Rev. 22, Safe and Suitable Ingredients Used in the Production of Meat, Poultry and Egg Products
FSIS Supports a Food Safe Thanksgiving
Cooking a turkey properly makes even the most confident chef just a little nervous, not to mention the millions of first-time cooks attempting the turkey trot to the Thanksgiving table this year. To help make Thanksgiving a little easier (and safer), FSIS is conducting an extensive public education campaign this month. The campaign includes social media outreach, blogs, infographics, press releases, congressional advisories and media interviews to inform the public about the safety steps they can take at home to ensure their meal is both delicious and healthy.
On Nov. 19, FSIS will conduct a Facebook ‘chat’ on the FoodSafety.gov Facebook page, available at www.facebook.com/FoodSafety.gov. The chat will be conducted from 4 - 5 p.m. ET. Food safety specialists from the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline will engage directly with the public to answer food safety questions in real time. The chat will be saved on FoodSafety.gov’s Facebook ‘timeline’ for future use.
Food Safety Tips for Areas Affected by Winter Storm Warnings
FSIS is issuing food safety recommendations covering parts of the western and central United States due to the National Weather Service’s forecast that snow is likely for the Pacific Northwest across the Rockies and into the central Plains. This type of weather forecast presents the possibility of power outages that could compromise the safety of stored food. FSIS recommends that consumers take the following steps to reduce food waste and the risk of foodborne illness during severe weather events.
Steps to follow if the power goes out:
- Keep appliance thermometers in both the refrigerator and the freezer to ensure temperatures remain food safe during a power outage. Safe temperatures are 40 °F or lower in the refrigerator, 0 °F or lower in the freezer.
- Freeze water in one-quart plastic storage bags or small containers prior to a storm. These containers are small enough to fit around the food in the refrigerator and freezer to help keep food cold. Remember, water expands when it freezes so don’t overfill the containers.
- Freeze refrigerated items, such as leftovers, milk and fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately—this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
- Know where you can get dry ice or block ice.
- Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than four hours.
- Group foods together in the freezer—this ‘igloo’ effect helps the food stay cold longer.
- Avoid putting food outside in ice or snow, because it attracts wild animals or could thaw when the sun comes out.
- Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods that do not require cooking or cooling.
- Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible. A refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if the door is kept closed. A full freezer will hold its temperature for about 48 hours (24 hours if half-full).
- Place meat and poultry to one side of the freezer or on a tray to prevent cross contamination of thawing juices.
- Check the temperature inside of your refrigerator and freezer. Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, seafood, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40 °F for two hours or more.
- Check each item separately. Throw out any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture or feels warm to the touch.
- Check frozen food for ice crystals. The food in your freezer that partially or completely thawed may be safely refrozen if it still contains ice crystals or is 40 °F or below.
- Never taste a food to decide if it’s safe.
- When in doubt, throw it out!
Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at www.AskKaren.gov or m.AskKaren.gov on a smartphone. Mobile Ask Karen can also be downloaded from the Apple and Android app stores. Consumers can e-mail, chat with a live representative or call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline directly from the app. To use these features from Mobile Ask Karen, simply choose “Contact Us” from the menu. The live chat option and the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854), are available on weekdays from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. ET.
Cost and Benefit of STEC Testing
Next week FSIS will announce in the Federal Register and post on its website its analysis of the estimated costs and benefits associated with the implementation of its non-O157 Shiga toxin-producing E. coli (STEC) testing of beef manufacturing trimmings and the costs and benefits associated with the potential expansion of its non-O157 STEC testing to include ground beef and ground beef components other than beef manufacturing trimmings.
When FSIS previously announced in the Federal Register that it was implementing non-O157 STEC testing of beef manufacturing trimmings (77 FR 31975; May 31, 2012), FSIS stated that the agency would update the economic analysis on the effects of non-O157 agency testing originally published in the Sept. 20, 2011, Federal Register (76 FR 58157). In next week’s Federal Register notice, FSIS will request comment on this updated analysis. FSIS will consider any comments it receives before deciding whether to expand its non-O157 testing to include additional products. In addition, should FSIS decide to expand this testing to include additional products, FSIS would announce its decision in the Federal Register before implementation.
NACMCF Audio Conference Call
The National Advisory Committee on Microbiological Criteria for Foods (NACMCF) will hold a meeting of the full committee via audio conference call that is open to the public on Nov. 17, 2014, from 2 - 5 p.m. ET. The committee will continue to discuss, and plans to adopt, the documents related to (1) Control strategies for reducing foodborne Norovirus infections, and (2) Study of microbiological criteria as indicators of process control or insanitary conditions.
Information about the meeting can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/newsroom/meetings. To register or to provide public comment, contact Karen Thomas-Sharp at 202-690-6620 or email@example.com.
Export Requirement Updates
The Library of Export Requirements has been updated to reflect changes in export requirements for the following countries:
- None to Report
Complete information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/international-affairs/exporting-products.
Get Answers at AskFSIS
AskFSIS is a web-based technology and policy question-and-answer forum on topics such as exporting, labeling, inspection, programs and procedures.
In addition, AskFSIS offers Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds that link back to the Q&As. Visit http://askfsis.custhelp.com to view recently posted topics.
FSIS Food Recalls and Alerts
Stay up-to-date on FSIS’ food recall alerts by visiting FSIS’ Current Recalls and Alerts Web pag at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/recalls.
You can also receive e-mail notifications when public health alerts and recalls are issued. Register at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/subscribe.
Follow Us On Twitter
Find food safety information for at-risk people, along with tips and resources to keep consumers and other interested groups informed of the latest agency news and events. Follow FSIS on Twitter at www.twitter.com/USDAFoodSafety.
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The FSIS Spanish language Twitter feed keeps consumers and other interested communities informed of the latest agency news and events and provides useful food safety tips.