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USDA gives gives green light to raw pork from Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland’s raw pork exports to the United States may continue after a favorable on-site audit of that country’s meat inspection system by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

FSIS let Northern Ireland’s Chief Veterinarian Robert Huey know the draft final report of the audit was available by letter on Jan. 3, 2018 and the agency published both the letter and draft final report on the agency’s website on March 12.

FSIS auditors conducted their on-site examination of Northern Ireland’s meat inspection system from Sept. 18 to Sept. 26, 2017. The Belfast exit meeting with the Irish authorities, which FSIS refers to as the Central Competent Authority or CCA, was held on the final day.

“The FSIS auditor concluded that Northern Ireland’s meat inspection system is organized to provide ultimate control, supervision, and enforcement of regulatory requirements,” according to the draft final report. “The CCA has implemented sanitary operating procedures and a HACCP system to ensure controls of the meat inspection system. Also, the CCA has implemented a microbiological and chemical residue testing programs that are organized and administered by the national to verify its system. An analysis of each component did not identify any systemic findings representing an immediate threat to public health.”

According to FSIS, the purpose of the audit was to determine whether Northern Ireland’s food safety system governing 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.

At present, Northern Ireland is eligible to export raw pork products to the United States.

The six system equivalence components that were the focus of the audit are:

  • (1) Government Oversight (e.g., Organization and Administration)
  • (2) Government Statutory Authority and Food Safety and Other Consumer Protection Regulations (e.g., Inspection System Operation, Product Standards and Labeling, and Humane Handling)
  • (3) Government Sanitation
  • (4) Government Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) System
  • (5) Government Chemical Residue Testing Programs
  • (6) Government Microbiological Testing Programs.

And FSIS outlined the bottom line this way:

  • The FSIS auditor concluded that Northern Ireland’s meat inspection system is organized to provide ultimate control, supervision, and enforcement of regulatory requirements.
  • The CCA has implemented sanitary operating procedures and a HACCP system to ensure controls of the meat inspection system.
  • In addition, the CCA has implemented a microbiological and chemical residue testing programs that are organized and administered by the national to verify its system.
  • An analysis of each component did not identify any systemic findings representing an immediate threat to public health.

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