The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has posted a notice on a few proposed policy changes to its Salmonella Initiative Program, which aims to reduce Salmonella in raw meat and poultry.
Referred to as SIP, the voluntary, incentive-based program will grant some establishments regulatory waivers in order to try new procedures, equipment or processing techniques to better control Salmonella.
In return, SIP establishments collect product samples on each line during each shift of every day of production; and then use these samples to test for common foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, Campylobacter and generic E. coli, and share this internal food safety data with FSIS.
On Friday, FSIS outlined several changes regarding SIP, including allowing some establishments to operate with modified line speed as long as they participate in a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Among other revisions — a SIP establishment will not be suspended or lose its waiver solely because of its testing results and FSIS may reduce the required frequency of testing for SIP establishments that meet the Salmonella performance standard for at least six months and can maintain that level of process control with reduced testing frequency.
FSIS is also considering reducing the required frequency of testing for small establishments. The agency intends to conduct its own unannounced, small-set sampling to verify the consistent performance of all establishments, including those participating in SIP.
The notice sets new deadlines for establishments now operating with regulatory waivers to apply for the program, addressed comments previously received from stakeholders, and invited further comments on SIP for 60 additional days.
In the FSIS news release, Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagan said of SIP, “Prevention is the best way to protect consumers. This program will encourage innovation by the industry to make food safer while providing us with data and information we can use to protect public health.”
Comments on the proposals must be received on or before 60 days from publication in the Federal Register and may be submitted through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, FSIS Docket Clerk, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Ave., Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, MD 20705-5474. All comments must identify FSIS and docket number FSIS-2006-0034.
For further information, contact Daniel Engeljohn, Ph.D., Assistant Administrator for the Office of Policy and Program Development, FSIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Room 349-E, Jamie Whitten Building, 1400 Independence Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700, by phone 202-205-0495, fax 202-720-2025, or email Daniel.Engeljohn@fsis.usda.gov.