AAMP seeks answers on potential FSIS rule

Source of Article: www.meatingplace.com


By Tom Johnston on 7/20/2009


OMAHA Meat processors are seeking more information from USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service on how to comply with a potential regulation emphasizing in-plant data collection as a means of validating their pathogen interventions.

Members of the American Association of Meat Processors' meat inspection and governmental affairs committee, gathered here at the group's annual convention, expressed particular concern about the indication from an FSIS letter that they would have to validate via in-plant data collection every single product they make and every single critical control point written in their HACCP plans.

"If this is what they're talking about, you'll either make only one product or you will cease to exist," said Joe Maas, vice president of production at Harrison, Ohio-based JTM Food Group.

FSIS, which has yet to name a boss under the Obama administration, has not yet issued guidance documents on the rule changes, which are part of the agency's recently revised methodology of conducting food safety assessments (FSAs).

In the letter he sent to staff earlier this year, Kenneth Petersen, assistant administrator of FSIS' Office of Field Operations, said field officers should refrain from issuing to plant operators Noncompliance Records (NRs) or Notices of Intended Enforcement (NOIEs) until guidance documents and Federal Register notices were issued. The letter came in response to complaints from meat processors who were surprised to learn that their conventional means of validation were insufficient and in violation of the new rules. Meat processors traditionally have validated their processes by referring to third-party scientific research studies that support the efficacy of critical control points.

"We really want more details," Andrea Brown, AAMP's director of legislative and regulatory affairs, told Meatingplace. "We're not the only trade association that is concerned about this. These changes could have a big impact on the whole industry."

Brown said that as part of a series of webinars that FSIS will be conducting later this year, two of them are to cover the topic of validation.


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