The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) last Friday announced a proposed rule that would consolidate and streamline existing regulations for meat and poultry products. The rule would eliminate redundant trichinae control requirements for pork and pork products and consolidate regulations for thermally processed, commercially sterile meat and poultry products. FSIS is seeking comment on this rule. This rule is a supplement to 2001 FSIS proposed rule that proposed to establish food safety performance standards for all ready-to-eat (RTE) and all partially heat-treated meat and poultry products.
Consistent with the 2001 proposed rule, this supplemental proposed rule, if finalized, will remove the provisions for the prescribed treatment of pork products. FSIS’ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations require every federally inspected establishment to identify and control food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur, making prescriptive trichinae regulations no longer necessary. Under this proposed rule, establishments will still be required to control for the risk of trichinae and other parasites. FSIS’ HACCP regulations require establishments to develop science-based controls for trichinae that are appropriate for the hazards identified for each specific establishment. Compliance with FSIS’ HACCP guidelines has proven effective at eliminating trichinae, and the risk for Trichinella infection associated with commercial pork has decreased substantially.
FSIS has developed a compliance guide for establishments to follow should this supplemental proposed rule become final. FSIS developed the compliance guide to help establishments, particularly small and very small establishments, in understanding the controls that are effective for the prevention and elimination of trichinae and other parasites in RTE and not ready-to-eat (NRTE) pork products. FSIS has posted this compliance guide on its Web page (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/compliance-guides-index) and is also requesting comments on the guidance. This guidance is consistent with international Trichinae standards including those developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (Codex) and the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).
Additionally, FSIS is proposing to consolidate the regulations on thermally processed, commercially sterile meat and poultry products (i.e., canned food products containing meat or poultry) and make minor changes that improve the clarity of the regulations. These changes will streamline and clarify the regulations without any reduction in the existing public health protections. Among the proposed changes, FSIS is proposing to remove redundant equipment descriptions, update wording to reflect FSIS’ current organizational structure, and clarify the regulatory requirements.