HACCP plans must address Salmonella and E. coli
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on April 22 announced new safety directives to control pathogens in plants that produce ground beef. FSIS inspectors will determine whether plants have specifically addressed Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 in their Pathogen Reduction/HACCP plans. Ground beef plants that do not employ effective decontamination strategies, or that do not require their suppliers to do so as part of their PR/HACCP systems, will be targeted for increased verification testing above that which is already conducted. FSIS currently tests for Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in grinding plants to verify that the plants’ food safety systems are controlling microbial hazards.
New screening method for Listeria adopted
FSIS announced on April 30 that it is adopting the BAX® system to screen meat and poultry samples for Listeria monocytogenes. The system reduces the reporting time for a negative test result by one day and reduces false positive results and is as sensitive as the current method. FSIS will implement the system to screen meat and poultry samples for L. monocytogenes in the agency’s three field service laboratories, located in Athens, Ga., St. Louis, Mo., and Alameda, Calif., and in the FSIS Microbial Outbreaks and Special Projects Branch laboratory in Athens, Ga. FSIS is planning to evaluate the system to screen samples for E. coli O157:H7 and Salmonella in the next few months.
Company petitions for vitamin D-3 in juices
The Minute Maid Co. has asked FDA to allow use of vitamin D-3 in calcium-fortified fruit juices and fruit drinks. Details are in the Federal Register of April 25 (67 FR 20533). For more information, contact Judith L. Kidwell at FDA, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740-3835 (phone 202-418-3354).
Stay of provisions of “healthy” claim extended
The Food and Drug Administration is extending until January 1, 2006, the partial stay of certain provisions of the nutrient content claim regulations pertaining to the use of the term “healthy.” This action is being taken to allow the agency to conduct rulemaking to consider amending the sodium content requirements for foods labeled “healthy.” Details are in the Federal Register of May 8 (67 FR 30795-30796). For more information, contact Ellen M. Anderson at FDA, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740-3835 (phone 301-436-1798).
FSIS to share recall distribution lists
FSIS has issued a rule allowing the agency to share product distribution lists from a firm that is recalling meat or poultry products with state and other federal and agencies without having to disclose the information to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. A product distribution list is a proprietary, confidential record of where and when a company’s products are shipped. When a product is recalled, distribution lists are used to locate the recalled products and verify that they are removed from commerce. This rule will facilitate cooperation among regulatory agencies. Details are in the Federal Register of April 24 (67 FR 20010). For more information, contact Ralph Stafko at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250 (phone 202-418-8900).
FDA seeks comments on recordkeeping requirements
FDA is soliciting comments on its reporting and recordkeeping requirements for firms that process acidified foods and thermally processed low-acid foods in hermetically sealed containers. FDA requires registration of food processing establishments, filing of process or other data, and maintenance of processing and production records. These requirements are intended to ensure safe manufacturing, processing, and packing procedures and to permit FDA to verify that these procedures are being followed. Deadline for comments is July 5. Details are in the Federal Register of May 6 (67 FR 30391-30392). For more information, contact Peggy Schlosburg at FDA, 5600 Fishers Lane, Rockville, MD 20857 (phone 301-827-1223).
Antimicrobial proposed for poultry processing
Safe Foods Corp. has asked FDA to allow use of cetylpyridinium chloride as an antimicrobial agent in poultry processing. Details are in the Federal Register of May 7 (67 FR 30716). For more information, contact Andrew D. Laumbach at FDA, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740 (phone 202-418-3071).
by NEIL H. MERMELSTEIN