The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sends warning letters out to manufacturers and processors with food safety problems that sometimes also point up how much misunderstanding still exists.

The Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations, for example,  are the new bible of food safety, but beyond the experts it’s a subject matter that can get a little foggy.

Consider, for example, the Nov. 4 warning letter FDA sent to Spokane’s Inland Meats Inc.   

FDA inspected the facility in eastern Washington State last July 21 and 22.    The agency’s main concerns involved whether Inland Meats Inc.’s seafood HACCP was adequate for the vacuum packing in plastic that it uses for its salmon product.

And Inland was quick to respond to FDA inspection in writing.

“We note that your revised HACCP plan, which was faxed on July 29, 2010 lists a single critical control point of “Halibut, Salmon”; these are products, and not appropriate processing steps as defined in 21CFR 123.3(b),” FDA wrote back to Inland in the warning letter.

If products are thought to be processing steps, writing the rest of the plan might go badly and did.

“We acknowledge receiving your correspondence, sent by facsimile to the Seattle District Director on July 29, 2010, in response to the Form FDA 483, Inspectional Observations, issued at the conclusion of the inspection on July 22, 2010,” FDA said.

“Your correspondence consisted of a single page of a HACCP plan with the heading “INLAND MEATS, INC. WA 1496-SS, 1222 NORTH REGAL STREET, SPOKANE, WA 99202, FRESH SEAFOOD-VACUUM PACKING IN PLASTIC.” 

“Your response is inadequate in that your HACCP plan for refrigerated, vacuum packaged salmon and halibut does not ensure control of pathogen growth and toxin formation, including Clostridium botulinum toxin formation,” the warning letter added.

FDA is giving Inland Meats 15 working days to correct its violations.   

Inland Meats Inc. has been serving the Greater Spokane Area, and other areas of the Inland Northwest since 1932.