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Constituent Update - December 6, 2019

FSIS Extends Comment Period for USCA Petition on Labeling Claims

FSIS is extending the comment period for a petition submitted by the United States Cattlemen’s Association on “Made in U.S.A” and “Product of U.S.A” labeling claims. The petition requests that FSIS update its FSIS Food Standards and Labeling Policy Book to limit the use of these labeling claims to products from cattle that were born, raised, and harvested in the United States. The petition is available on the FSIS website at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/42bc4cbb-f776-4c30-a992-2b48d43ee263/19-05-usca-102319.pdf?MOD=AJPERES. The comment period will now close on January 30, 2020.

Those interested in submitting comments may do so via the federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov; by mail sent to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Mailstop 3758, Room 6065, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700; or by hand or courier delivery to 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 6065, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700.

All comments submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the agency name and identification number FSIS-2019-0024. Comments on this petition will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to https://www.regulations.gov/searchResults?rpp=25&po=0&s=FSIS-2019-0024&fp=true&ns=true.

FSIS Transitions to Using WGS Data from Salmonella Isolates to Determine Serotype

FSIS is announcing a modernization of laboratory methods to determine serotype of Salmonella isolates. For all Salmonella positive samples collected after January 1, 2020, whole genome sequencing (WGS) data will be used to determine Salmonella serotype.

FSIS last modernized the Salmonella serotype methodology in 2012 when FSIS introduced molecular serotyping to replace traditional slide agglutination technologies for routine analyses.  Any isolates that needed further classification were sent to USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) for traditional (slide agglutination) serotyping. Using bioinformatics tools that have developed over the last several years, WGS data can be analyzed to determine Salmonella serotype. Since 2016, FSIS has performed molecular serotyping in parallel with WGS serotype analysis. FSIS recently performed a comparison of Salmonella serotype determination using molecular serotyping and using improved bioinformatics tools to analyze WGS data. Of the 9,842 Salmonella isolates sequenced by FSIS since 2016, 98.21% of the serotypes determined by WGS data matched the serotype determined by molecular serotyping and/or USDA NVSL traditional serotyping supporting. This high level of agreement supports a transition to routinely using WGS to determine Salmonella serotype and discontinuing the parallel analyses.

Using FSIS’ current process for performing WGS, serotype information will typically be available 7 days after an isolate is confirmed.  FSIS plans to maintain molecular serotyping capabilities and will continue sending isolates to NVSL for further classification in the rare cases where Salmonella serotype cannot be determined using WGS.  Finally, FSIS intends to present these findings at the upcoming 2020 IAFP Meeting and is in the process of developing a manuscript for publication in a peer reviewed journal.

Tips for Faster Label Approval Process

Labels are currently taking about 13-15 business days to evaluate.

TIP: Use the “Edit” function in the Label Submission and Approval System (LSAS) for a more efficient label application resubmittal process.

FSIS returns label applications most commonly through LSAS because the label requires changes, the application is incomplete, or the agency needs additional information or clarification to evaluate the label. Establishments should use the “Edit” function in LSAS to modify their application. Some establishments have mistakenly used the “Withdraw” function, which will withdraw the application and place it at the bottom of the review queue. This action results in an unnecessary delay for those applications that require FSIS approval.

Establishments should follow the instructions provided below for those applications that are returned after an initial review and need to be resubmitted once again for evaluation. Resubmittals appear at the top of the FSIS review pool and are typically reevaluated within 1-2 business days.

To update the label application with a corrected version of the label or to upload additional documentation, the submitter should select the returned application from the "Returned Pool" in LSAS and then select “Manage Application.” Next, the submitter should select “Edit” from the “Available Actions” menu. The “Edit” function allows the submitter to make corrections to the label application.  After selecting “Edit,” the submitter can quickly navigate to the desired information or screen by using the “Go To” drop-down list located in the upper right corner.  The submitter should then make the appropriate changes to the selected screen and save them using the “Save” button at the bottom of the screen. Finally, the submitter needs to select the “7234 Summary” screen to review and resubmit the label application to FSIS.

For additional information on how to resubmit a label application that has been returned in LSAS, please see the “Handle A Returned Label Application” section in the LSAS User Guide, beginning on pg. 112, at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/45a29f18-52cc-4012-8790-ab7ea9f980c9/LSAS-Industry-User-Guide-063015.pdf?MOD=AJPERES.

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.

FSIS Announces 2020 Rates for Providing Voluntary Services

FSIS is announcing the rates it will charge meat and poultry establishments, egg products plants, and importers and exporters for providing voluntary, overtime, and holiday inspection and identification, certification, and laboratory services in 2020. The 2020 basetime, overtime, holiday, and laboratory services rates will be applied on January 5, 2020.

The following table lists the 2020 rates per hour, per employee, by type of service:

Service 2020 Rate
(estimates rounded to reflect billable quarters)
Basetime $64.84
Overtime $79.88
Holiday $94.88
Laboratory $82.32


The notice announcing the fees was published in the Federal Register: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2019/12/06/2019-26326/2020-rate-changes-for-the-basetime-overtime-holiday-and-laboratory-services-rates

For further information, contact Michael Toner, Director, Budget Division, Office of the Chief Financial Officer, FSIS, at (202) 690-8398 or michael.toner@usda.gov.

Export Requirements Updates

The Library of Export Requirements has been updated for products for the following countries: 

  • Afghanistan
  • European Union
  • Hong Kong
  • Iraq
  • Jamaica 
  • Japan
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Mexico
  • Morocco
  • South Africa
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey

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

Policy Updates

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

FSIS Notice 48-19 - Performance Award Distribution for Non-Bargaining Unit Employees

FSIS Notice 49-19 - Eligibility of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to Export to the United States Poultry Products from Birds Slaughtered in China