Tag Archives: FSIS

FSIS Notice on Humane Handling and Slaughter – Is it Worth the Hassle?

CowsBy Chris Young, Executive Director

This notice provides instructions to FSIS Public Health Veterinarians (PHVs), inspection program personnel (IPP) and District Veterinary Medical Specialists (DVMSs) about assessing and informing official livestock establishments whether their written systematic approach for humane handling and slaughter meets the criteria for being a robust plan or not. This notice also indicates the expected frequency for PHV and DVMS verification reviews of an existing robust systematic approach to humane handling and slaughter.
In 2004, FSIS recommended that establishments develop and implement a systematic approach for humanely handling and slaughtering livestock by effectively addressing the four aspects of a systematic approach; those are: assessment, design, evaluation and response.
The industry was told that if we developed and implemented a robust systematic approach then this would be taken into consideration along with other factors when deciding whether to issue a Notice of Suspension (NOS) or Notice of Intended Enforcement (NOIE) action. Experience tells me that this has not been the case. The over enforcement and inconsistency of enforcement of humane handling and slaughter regulations over the last few years has been an ongoing issue for processors. This issue will be at the forefront of AAMP’s efforts in Washington in 2017 once the dust settles on the transition of a new administration. The enforcement of humane handling has been all over the spectrum, and not just between districts, but also within districts. It appears that there are different sets of rules depending on where you are in the country. One district may receive an NOIE and under the same set of circumstances may receive a Notice of Suspension in another district.
If having a robust humane handling program is recommended and not a requirement, and there does not appear to be any difference in the level of enforcement between those who have and those who don’t, why would you open yourself up to the increased scrutiny of this notice? Here is what will be required of you if you choose to have a robust plan. When the establishment management wants to implement an animal-handling program it believes to be a robust systematic approach, it is to request an FSIS review. Once an establishment has a program in place, the associated plan, corrective actions and records produced will be subject to monthly verification reviews by PHVs. DVMSs are to evaluate establishments’ robust systematic approach plans during their Humane Handling Verification visits, which are performed every 12-18 months.
AAMP and its members are fully supportive of humane handling and slaughter regulations. We support having a robust plan in place to make sure we are paying attention to the details and handling animals in our facilities correctly. My opposition to it is that FSIS should get their own house in order and have a clear set of rules and a decision tree in place so that inspectors and DVM’s are responding to incidents in the same way. If a plant has a plan in place and there is a mis-stun and they follow their plan with a follow up stun, then there should be no action taken by FSIS. FSIS cannot continue to enforce from a zero tolerance point of view; that is not reality and they know that, which is why they are requiring a robust plan.
I trust all of our members will continue to do the right thing and handle the animals in their facilities to the best of their ability to ensure a safe, humane kill. A formal response will be sent to Washington explaining AAMP’s position on this and it will be followed by a visit.

FSIS Seeking Public Input 2017-2021 Strategic Plan

usda-fsisUSDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is holding a public meeting July 16, 2015, from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. ET, to gather industry thoughts as it works to develop its 2017-2021 Strategic Plan.
FSIS is looking for public comment on both current and potential future issues that may affect how it will achieve two principal goals: preventing food borne illness and protecting public health and modernizing systems, policies, and the use of scientific approaches. The meeting will be held at the U.S. Forest Service Headquarters, Sidney R. Yates Building, 201 14th St. SW, Washington, DC. Participation will also be possible via phone with dial-in information forthcoming. Comments may be submitted in person on July 16, or via e-mail to Greg DiNapoli at greg.dinapoli@fsis.usda.gov.
Chris Young, AAMP’s outreach specialist, will be attending the meeting and making comments on behalf of AAMP and its members. His comments will center around the amount of time spent on humane handling issues versus food safety, the inconsistency of inspection between districts and the lack of cooperation from inspectors.

Allergens: A Closer Look

3013714061_ceda6b7ea8_qThe Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published Directive 7230.1, Ongoing Verification of Product Formulation and Labeling Targeting the Eight Most Common (“Big 8”) Food Allergens. This directive instructs agency employees how to verify that inspected establishments are controlling and labeling the eight most common allergens. The “Big 8” allergens — wheat, crustacean shellfish, eggs, fish, peanuts, milk, tree nuts, and soybeans – account for approximately 90 percent of food allergy reactions. FSIS was prompted to issue the directive because of an increase in the amount of recalls for products produced in FSIS inspected facilities. Last week alone there were four separate recalls for undeclared allergens totaling over 60,000 lbs. of product. This directive applies to IPP in egg products plants and in meat and poultry product establishments that produce product in the following HACCP categories: (1) Raw – non-intact (03B); (2) Raw – intact (03C); (3) Thermally processed commercially sterile (03D); (4) Not heat-treated, shelf stable (03E); (5) Heat-treated shelf stable (03F); (6) Fully cooked not shelf stable (03G); (7) Heat-treated not fully cooked not shelf stable (03H); and (8) Secondary inhibitors not shelf stable (03I). If you produce product in one or more of these categories then you can expect your inspector to talk with you about this directive at your next weekly meeting, if they have not done so already. Verification is set to begin April 12 and will happen on a monthly basis. Look for the April issue of the AAMPlifier for more in-depth information on the directive.

Comment Now on FSIS Establishment Specific Data Release

usda-fsisOn January 15, FSIS announced the availability of the agency’s draft Establishment-Specific Data Release Strategic Plan (the draft plan) for sharing data on federally inspected meat and poultry establishments with the public. FSIS developed the plan in response to memoranda released by President Obama and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that called for increased data sharing.

The data to be released first will be demographic datasets for all regulated establishments (expanding the data currently available through the FSIS Meat, Poultry, and Egg Inspection Directory). “Demographics” here refers to identifying characteristics of meat and poultry establishments that are subject to FSIS inspection. These include, but are not limited to, the following variables: Establishments’ “HACCP size”– large, small, or very small; products the establishment produces; and their USDA official establishment number.

At a later date, FSIS will release agency datasets on testing data on Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) in raw, non-intact beef products and on Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella in RTE products. Additional Agency datasets FSIS intends to release include, but are not limited to, testing and serotype data on Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and young turkeys; Salmonella and Campylobacter in comminuted poultry; Salmonella in raw ground beef; routine chemical residue testing data in meat and poultry products; advanced meat recovery (AMR) testing data. These preliminary agency datasets will not all be released at the same time and before releasing the final datasets. FSIS will publish a Constituent Update with a link to a sample dataset for stakeholder review.

Besides the preliminary datasets that the agency will be releasing, as stated in the draft plan, FSIS is considering additional data sources for future release. These include: inspection task data associated with verification of compliance with each regulation; humane handling task data; and import sampling task data relating to STEC, Salmonella and residue testing.

FSIS invites interested persons to submit comments on the draft data release plan. What this means is that data that is currently available by written request through the Freedom of Information Act will become available online on a USDA website. If you would like to comment on proposed release of data, comments may be submitted by one of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal: This website provides the ability to type short comments directly into the comment field on this web page or attach a file for lengthier comments. Go to www.regulations.gov. Follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments. Mail, CD-ROMs: Send to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW., Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163B, Washington, DC 20250-3700.

USDA UPDATE: March 9, 2015

FSIS is extending the comment period by 30 days for the Federal Register notice “Establishment-Specific Data Release Strategic Plan” (80 FR 2092; Jan. 15, 2015). The notice announced the availability of the Agency’s draft plan for sharing establishment-specific data with the public. The original deadline to submit comments was March 16; the new deadline to submit comments is April 15. Comments on the notice may be submitted by either of the following methods: Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov or via mail, including CD-ROMs, etc., to Docket Room Manager, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Ave., SW, Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163B, Washington, DC 20250-3700. Hand- or courier-deliver submittals should be delivered to Patriots Plaza 3, 355 E. St., SW, Room 8-163B, Washington, DC 20250-3700. To view the notice, click here.