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
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
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