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New audit finds Spain’s pork inspections ‘equivalent’ to U.S.

The USDA’s most recent onsite audit of Spain’s inspection system for raw and processed pork products found the European nation’s efforts remain equivalent to those of the United States.

The report for the audit conducted in Spain from Sept. 27 to Oct. 19, 2017, was released Tuesday by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“The purpose of the audit was to determine whether Spain’s food safety system governing slaughtered and processed meat remains equivalent to that of the United States, with the ability to export products that are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and correctly labeled and packaged,” according to the report.

Spain currently exports the following categories of pork products to the United States:

  1. raw – intact;
  2. raw – not intact;
  3. fully cooked – not shelf stable;
  4. not heat-treated – shelf stable;
  5. heat-treated – not fully cooked; and
  6. heat-treated – not shelf stable.

The audit focused on six system equivalence components:

  • Government oversight – e.g., organization and administration;
  • Government statutory authority and food safety and other consumer protection regulations – e.g., Inspection System Operation, Product Standards and Labeling, and Humane Handling;
  • Government sanitation;
  • Government Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) system;
  • Government Chemical Residue Testing Programs; and
  • Government Microbiological Testing Programs.

“(Spain) did not adequately verify that establishments met government sanitation requirements that ensure ventilation is sufficient to control condensation to protect the product and prevent the creation of unsanitary conditions,” according to the FSIS report.

FSIS made the same finding in a 2015 audit, and corrective actions were not adequate. The report says Spain is now “committed to begin addressing the preliminary findings as presented.”

The FSIS audit team inspected five meat processing plants and two meat slaughter facilities in Spain as part of the in-country audit. Also included was the public health laboratory in Valencia and meetings with national and regional food safety officials in Madrid and Barcelona.

Spain currently exports raw and further processed pork products to the United States.

In May 2017 the FSIS completed a three-year verification of Spain’s pork exports to the U.S.

From June 1, 2014, to May 31, 2017, FSIS import inspectors performed 100 percent re-inspection for labeling and certification on about 36.8 million pounds of slaughtered and processed pork products exported by Spain to the United States.

“Of that amount, additional types of inspections were performed on 4,709,053 pounds, of which no product was rejected due to any food safety or other reasons,” according to the 52-page report.

Earlier this month the USDA announced that Northern Ireland’s raw pork exports to the United States could continue after a favorable audit report of that country’s food safety system. That in-country audit was also conducted in late 2017 by FSIS.

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