Israel exports ready-to-eat fully cooked and not shelf-stable poultry products to the United States. And those exports may continue, according to a report by the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

That’s because Israel has passed its latest foreign equivalency audit by the United States. The audit did not turn up any deficiencies that might represent an immediate threat to public health.

The FSIS auditor did turn up some issues that Israeli authorities promised to work on during the exit interview, according to the May 1 report.

The report details the outcome of the onsite equivalence verification audit conducted by FSIS in Israel from Nov. 3-20, 2019.

“The purpose of the audit was to determine whether Israel’s food safety inspection system governing poultry products remains equivalent to that of the United States, with the ability to export products that are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and correctly labeled and packaged. Israel currently exports ready-to-eat (RTE), fully cooked not shelf-stable poultry products to the United States,” says the report.

The findings by the FSIS auditor included the following:

  • Not all results of official microbiological samples tested at the government laboratory are reported directly to the Central Competent Authority (CCA). Only positive results are reported but not negative results.
  • All refrigeration units in the sample receiving area of one microbiological laboratory were not identified and labeled with a calibration certification and an expiration date.
  • The CCA periodic supervisory review documentation does not address the topic of official control over condemned material until destroyed or removed from the establishment.
  • The Israeli poultry inspection system relies on traceability labeling to identify poultry products eligible for export to the United States rather than by separation through means of sanitation, physical barriers, or production during different shifts.
  • The FSIS auditor observed feather shafts embedded in turkey skins for further processing at two slaughter establishments and one RTE processing establishment.

The FSIS auditor visited two poultry slaughter and processing establishments, two laboratories, and regional and national inspection authorities during the audit.

 FSIS will evaluate the adequacy of the CCA’s documentation of proposed corrective actions and base future equivalence verification activities on the information provided.

(To sign up for a free subscription to Food Safety News, click here.)