USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service released a new on-site equivalence verification audit for France. It did not find any deficiencies that represented an immediate threat to public health.

The report was posted on the FSIS website shortly after August 14 when the final audit was sent to Dr. Lo” ic Evain, France’s chief veterinary officer. The on-site work in France occurred from March 4 to March 15, 2019.

FSIS is responsible for carrying out foreign equivalency audits to ensure that other countries maintain food safety protocols that are equal to the United States.

Audits focus on six system equivalence components, including:

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

While the audit finds no deficiencies presenting any threat to public health, FSIS did express some concerns to their French counterparts.

France allows its inspection officials to sign export certificates for products bound for the United States without final laboratory verifications for chemical residue.

Also, at all audited slaughter establishments, documented periodic supervisory reviews did not include an assessment of antemortem and post-mortem inspection procedures performed by government inspection personnel.

The French laboratory included in the audit does not routinely use positive control in conjunction with its screening method. FSIS considers the use of a positive control necessary for ensuring the validity of each analysis.

France was last audited by FSIS in 2017.

FSIS import inspectors performed 100 percent re-inspections for labeling and certification on 464,090 pounds of pork and 166,908 pounds of veal products exported by France to the United States from September 1, 2015, to August 31, 2018.

FSIS also performed re-inspection on 127,650 pounds of pork and 48,157 pounds of veal at point-of-entry (POE) for additional types of inspection, testing for chemical residues and microbiological pathogens. These included: E. coli O157: H7 and non-O157 Shiga Toxin-producing E. coli (STEC)) of which a total of 1,372 pounds of raw intact veal cuts rejected for testing positive for STEC (O103).

The current audit included the sole veal slaughter establishment certified to export veal to the United States, to assess controls for E. coli O157 and non-O157 STEC in raw veal.

France’s Ministry of Agriculture is competent in implementing corrective actions to FSIS audits, according to the report.

The auditors visited French laboratories, swine slaughter and processing facilities, veal slaughter and processing establishments, cold storage units.

FSIS performed the audit to verify that France’s food safety inspection system met requirements equivalent to those under the specific provisions of United States’ laws and regulations.

These included the Meat Inspection Act, the Humane Methods of Livestock Slaughter Act, and the Food Safety and Inspection Service Regulations for Imported Meat,

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