Deli Meat & Listeria PreventionThe U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) posted four notices to the Federal Register this week. Two solicit comments from the public, while the third provides the agency’s responses to comments on a previous notice. Also posted this week was a fourth notice requesting approval to conduct a new survey of the meat slaughter industry, but due to errors in the document, FSIS plans to make corrections and republish it in the Federal Register at a later date. The first notice asking for comments is guidance for controlling Listeria contamination in deli meats and salads. The best practices are grouped into four sections: product and product handling, cleaning and sanitizing, facility and equipment controls, and employee practices. It also includes a self-assessment tool for deli operators. Comments on the guidance are due by June 20. FSIS posted another guidance document that concerns control for allergens. It’s geared toward meat and poultry establishments and provides recommendations regarding processing, handling, storing and labeling a product with an allergenic ingredient. “In recent years (2008–2012), there has been a sustained increase in the number of recalls of FSIS-regulated products that contained undeclared allergens,” the notice reads. Comments on this guidance are also due by June 20. The last notice from FSIS discussed the “HACCP Plan Reassessment for Not-Ready-to-Eat (NRTE) Comminuted Poultry Products and Related Agency Verification Procedures,’’ that it published on Dec. 6, 2012. That original notice informed establishments producing NRTE ground or otherwise comminuted chicken and turkey products that they must reassess their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plans for these products. FSIS received 22 comments in response to that notice, and this week summarized and responded to those comments addressing concerns including the definition of NRTE comminuted poultry, exempting materials destined for high-pressure processing, estimation of Salmonella prevalence, how the agency will set performance standards and exportation.