The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing to amend federal meat inspection regulations regarding when hog carcasses must be cleaned before being processed and the amount of paperwork required when establishments voluntarily recall meat, poultry, and egg products. It is proposing to renew the process of collecting information regarding adulterated or misbranded products.

Those who want to comment on any of the three proposed changes must do so by July 16 at, by mailing a comment to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Mailstop 3758, Room 6065, Washington, DC 20250-3700 or by delivering comment in person to 1400 Independence Avenue S.W., Room 6065, Washington.

Federal regulations now require the cleaning of hog carcasses before any incision is made, preceding evisceration. This provision, although focusing on the presentation of carcass dressing defects, impedes the adoption of more efficient, effective procedures under other regulations to ensure that carcasses and parts are free of contamination, according to FSIS and industry representatives.

They say the provision is no longer necessary because other regulations require carcass cleaning, the maintenance of sanitary conditions and the prevention of hazards reasonably likely to occur in the slaughter process.

Under Federal Meat Inspection rules, FSIS must conduct inspections to ensure that carcasses, parts, and products of livestock are not adulterated and are properly marked, labeled and packaged. That includes a post-mortem inspection before processing.

The regulation calling for the post-mortem, pre-processing inspection says, “All hair, scurf, and dirt, including all hoofs and claws, shall be removed from hog carcasses and the carcasses thoroughly washed and cleaned before any incision is made for inspection or evisceration.”

Because the current regulation is prescriptive and requires hair removal before evisceration, the establishment has limited flexibility. Removing the regulation will enable an establishment to remove hair, scurf – or flakes of skin — nails and hooves at other points in the process and to do so in a way that may prove to be more efficient.

In accordance with the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 andOffice of Management and Budget (OMB) regulations, FSIS is announcing its intention to revise the approved information collection regarding voluntary recalls from commerce of meat, poultry, and egg products.

FSIS has reduced the burden estimate by 2,000 hours due to updated information on recall effectiveness checks. The approval for this information collection will expire on Sept. 30, 2018.  These statutes mandate that FSIS protect the public by verifying that meat, poultry, and egg products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated and properly labeled and packaged.  FSIS requests that a firm that has produced or imported meat, poultry or egg product that is adulterated or misbranded and has distributed it in commerce recall the product in question.

When there is a recall, FSIS asks that the recalling firm (e.g., a manufacturer, distributor or importer of record) provide the Agency with some basic information, including the identity of the recalled product, the reason for the recall, and information about the distributors and retail consignees to whom the product was actually shipped.  FSIS made its estimates based upon an information collection assessment.

And finally, FSIS is announcing its intention to renew the approved information collection regarding requirements for official establishments to notify of adulterated or misbranded products. FSIS is making no changes to the approved collection.

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