An on-site audit team from USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has found Spain’s food safety inspection system for raw and processed meat remains equivalent to that of the United States.

The on-site equivalence verification audit team from FSIS visited Spain from May 20 through June 5, 2019. The public release of the report occurred on Dec. 11.

Spain currently exports the following categories of pork products to the United States: raw – intact; raw – non-intact; fully cooked – not shelf-stable; not heat treated – shelf-stable; and heat-treated, but not fully cooked – not shelf-stable.

Spain’s food safety inspection system governing raw and processed meat, including fully-cooked, salt-cured, dried, and acidified-fermented products, must be equivalent to that of the United States to protect those exports.

Exports to the United States are kept safe, wholesome, and unadulterated by foreign equivalency audits.

The audit of Spain focused on six system equivalence components:

(1) Government Oversight (e.g., Organization and Administration);

(2) Government Statutory Authority and Food Safety and Other Consumer Protection Regulations (e.g., Inspection System Operation, Product Standards, and Labeling, and Humane Handling);

(3) Government Sanitation;

4) Government Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System;

(5) Government Chemical Residue Testing Programs; and

(6) Government Microbiological Testing Programs.

The FSIS audit team did not find any deficiencies in Spain that represent an immediate threat to public health, but it did find some issues for Spain to address.

The report says Spain’s inspection personnel are not confirming acceptable testing results from livestock carcasses and parts that subjected to routine government chemical residue testing before signing export certificates.

Further, the audit report says the Spanish authority does not require once per shift inspection coverage at High-Pressure Processing (HPP) establishments, during pork processing operations, of product destined for export to the United States.

Nor are Spanish inspection personnel required to perform hands-on inspection verification of the pre-operational sanitation procedures at HPP establishments.

The report also says Spain’s national chemical residue plan has provisions that allow for chemical residue samples with violative test results to be re-analyzed at the establishment’s request. FSIS auditors reviewed records, finding no retesting on products shipped to the United States in recent history

During the audit exit meeting, Spain committed to addressing the preliminary findings as presented. FSIS will evaluate the adequacy of the CCA’s documentation of proposed corrective actions and base future equivalence verification activities on the information provided.

Spain was last subjected to an FSIS foreign equivalence audit in 2017.

FSIS import inspectors performed 100 percent reinspection for labeling and certification on 57,649,164 pounds of pork products exported by Spain to the United States between Feb. 1, 2016, and Jan. 31, 2019.  FSIS also performed additional types of inspection on 4,410,060 pounds of pork products, including laboratory testing for chemical residues and microbiological pathogens (e.g., Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) and Salmonella).

As a result of these additional inspection activities, FSIS rejected 87,888 pounds of pork products for issues related to public health, including identification of Lm in 494 pounds of ready-to-eat (RTE) dried unsliced ham and extraneous material in 9,609 pounds of raw – intact pork. The remaining POE rejections were due to shipping container damage, certification, and labeling issues.

While in Spain, the audit team visited three pork slaughter plants and eight pork processing facilities.

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