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Constituent Update - August 14, 2020

USDA to Hold Public Meeting on Salmonella: State of the Science

USDA’s Office of Food Safety (OFS) and the Food Safety and Inspection Service are hosting a virtual public meeting on Salmonella with participation from the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At this meeting, OFS will present its “Roadmap to Reducing Salmonella”, which describes how FSIS advances programs and policies that are science-based, data-driven, and promote innovation to reduce Salmonella and other pathogens in meat, poultry, and egg products.

FSIS is announcing that it will hold a virtual public meeting through a Federal Register notice and the agency is seeking comments on the Salmonella initiatives addressed at the public meeting. Industry, interested individuals, organizations, and other stakeholders are invited to participate in the meeting and to comment on the data and science that drive FSIS’ Salmonella reduction efforts. Interested parties should submit comments on or before September 25, 2020 at http://www.regulations.gov.

The virtual public meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 22, 2020, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. ET. Questions must be submitted by September 10, 2020 to FRN@usda.gov. Stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide oral comments during the public meeting. Stakeholders must notify FSIS during registration of their wish to speak at the meeting. The meeting is virtual and will be viewed via the Webex link provided by email when you register for the meeting. There is no fee to register for the public meeting, but pre-registration is mandatory for all participants. All attendees must register online at https://ems8.intellor.com?do=register&t=1&p=831058

FSIS and Vermont Sign Cooperative Interstate Shipment Agreement

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and the State of Vermont have finalized a Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) agreement. The agreement was carefully reviewed and approved by FSIS over several weeks and will allow the State of Vermont to operate a CIS program, which provides an opportunity for certain state-inspected meat and poultry processors to ship their products across state lines.

The CIS program promotes the expansion of business opportunities for state-inspected meat and poultry establishments. Under CIS, certain state-inspected plants that comply with federal inspection requirements are permitted to ship their product in interstate commerce.

The CIS program is limited to plants located in the 27 states that have established a Meat and Poultry Inspection Program (MPI). To be eligible to participate in the CIS program, state MPI programs must meet a number of criteria to demonstrate that the inspection that it provides to state-inspected plants will be the “same as” the inspection that FSIS provides to official federal establishments. For instance, a state must demonstrate that it has the necessary legal authority to administer and enforce requirements that are the same as the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) and applicable regulations. In addition, the state must collect regulatory samples at the same frequency and use the same analytical methods at laboratories that meet the same level of accreditation as the FSIS laboratories. The assigned state inspectors may remain as the plant’s onsite inspectors, provided they have the same training and inspect the plant under the “same as” regulatory standards as their federal counterparts in FSIS-inspected plants. FSIS provides on-going oversight of the CIS program to ensure that participating states maintain and operate their “same as” programs in a manner that complies with all applicable federal statutes and regulations and follows FSIS directives and notices.

CIS establishments must employ fewer than 25 employees. The state recommends establishments for selection by FSIS for participation in the CIS program. FSIS verifies the state-inspected establishments comply with all the requirements under the federal statutes, including meeting the federal regulatory requirements for sanitation performance standards and developing written Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans. The FSIS on-going oversight includes verification that each CIS establishment continues to meet these and all other applicable federal requirements, such as submission, approval and use of FSIS approved labels under the same conditions as FSIS inspected establishments.

The CIS program was created by the 2008 Farm Bill and since then, FSIS has signed agreements with Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin. For more information about CIS, visit https://www.fsis.usda.gov/cis.

Updated Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response Now Online

The Council to Improve Foodborne Outbreak Response (CIFOR) released the streamlined and easy-to-read third edition of the Guidelines for Foodborne Disease Outbreak Response. The CIFOR guidelines are a comprehensive source of information on foodborne outbreak investigation and control for local, state, territorial, tribal, and federal health and regulatory agencies.

FSIS reviewed the guidelines and provided important information for this updated edition. FSIS updated information regarding online agency resources for public health partners to strengthen outbreak responses, how partners can notify FSIS of an outbreak, the FSIS process for sharing outbreak-related information with partners, actions FSIS may take in response to a foodborne outbreak, and how identifying and sharing outbreak lessons learned can help prevent future illness and improve response.

The updated guidelines can be found at https://cifor.us/clearinghouse/cifor-guidelines-for-foodborne-disease-outbreak-response.

FSIS to Post Updated Dataset on Import Refusals

On August 17, 2020, FSIS will update the publicly posted dataset on import refusals for products the agency 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 FSIS Datasets page.

Tips for Faster Label Approval Process

Labels are currently taking about 5-7 business days to evaluate.

TIP: Establishments must select the “include annotations” box when downloading an approved label in the Label Submission and Approval System (LSAS) to view the FSIS sketch approval stamp and any modifications that FSIS made to the label.

LSAS is a web-based application that integrates and implements an electronic label application process for establishments to submit label applications. After FSIS approves a label, the establishment needs to obtain the corresponding label documentation. Approved label submissions in LSAS are in the “Adjudicated Applications” pool. Establishments can download a copy of their approved label by selecting “Download” from the “Available Actions” drop-down menu. This opens the “Label Documentation” screen and allows the establishment to download some or all documents associated with the label application, including FSIS annotations or comments to the label or application. Establishments should select the corresponding checkbox for each individual document to download. To select all documents associated with the label application, establishments should select the first checkbox, “Select All Documents.” To view the dated FSIS sketch approval stamp on the LSAS-generated Form 7234, as well as any FSIS comments or edits, establishments should select the last checkbox next to “Include Annotations.” To print the application after downloading, in the Adobe Reader window, establishments should select “Document and Markups” from the “Print” menu under “Comments & Forms” and then proceed to print. During the download, the establishment can also save the application to a local computer. Note that the only way to view the dated FSIS stamp on the LSAS-generated Form 7234 is to check the “Include Annotations” checkbox.

For more information about downloading approved label applications, see page 136 of the LSAS User Guide at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/wcm/connect/45a29f18-52cc-4012-8790-ab7ea9f980c9/LSAS-Industry-User-Guide-090619.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.

Reminder: FSIS to Host Webinar on Labeling Claims on Aug. 18

FSIS will host a webinar to discuss animal raising claims and negative claims on labels to help industry understand the requirements and streamline the label submission process. The webinar will provide an overview on documentation needed to support animal raising claims made on meat or poultry products and will include a discussion about updates made to the Labeling Guideline on Documentation Needed to Substantiate Animal Raising Claims for Label Submissions posted in December 2019. FSIS updated the guideline in response to comments received on the previous version of the guideline posted in October 2016.

The webinar will also provide updated guidelines for factual statements concerning the non-use of bioengineered or genetically modified ingredients on labels of meat, poultry and egg products. The December 2019 Labeling Guideline on Statements That Bioengineered or Genetically Modified Ingredients or Animal Feed Were Not Used in Meat, Poultry, or Egg Products includes changes made based on comments on the guideline posted in August 2016. The webinar will provide establishments submitting labels with these types of claims with information that will streamline the label approval process, which currently takes about 5-7 business days once a label application is submitted. 

The webinar will be held on August 18 at 1:00 p.m. ET. To access the webinar, go to https://fsis-usda.webex.com/join/rosalyn.murphy-jenkins and follow the on-screen instructions. Use the following information when logging in: Meeting Number: 888-844-9904 Code: 2956126. For questions, contact Gianfranco Santaliz at 301-504-0878 or gianfranco.santaliz@usda.gov.

Additional guidelines on labeling and other topics are available at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/guidelines.

FSIS to Post Next Set of Establishment-Specific Datasets

FSIS is preparing to publish the next set of establishment-specific datasets as announced in the Federal Register on July 14, 2016 (Docket No. FSIS-2014-0032). Prior to publishing these datasets, FSIS is making sample datasets available. The next sample dataset and corresponding data documentation is for the volume of imported meat, poultry, and egg products presented for re-inspection to FSIS at ports of entry, which can be found on the Establishment-Specific Datasets: Laboratory Sampling Data web page at https://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/data-collection-and-reports/data/datasets-laboratory-sampling.

Please visit https://www.regulations.gov/ and follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments to Docket FSIS-2014-0032 for this sample dataset and data documentation by September 18, 2020. FSIS intends to publish the final dataset on October 9, 2020. Additional details can be found in the FSIS Establishment-Specific Data Release Strategic Plan.

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:

Docket No. FSIS-2020-0025 - Salmonella -- State of the Science

FSIS Notice 40-20 - Public Health Information System Export Module Enhancements

Export Requirements Update

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

  • Morocco
  • Singapore

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