Product qualifiers proposal withdrawn
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service has withdrawn its 1992 proposal, “Prominently Disclosed Product Name Qualifiers,” which proposed to remove requirements that meat and poultry product labels use a phrase qualifying the product name to disclose that certain ingredients are present in the product. FSIS now believes that this proposal is redundant with later agency initiatives and contains errors. Details are in the Federal Register of January 29 (67 FR 4212-4214). For more information, contact Robert C. Post at USDA/FSIS, Washington, DC 20250-3700 (phone 202-205-0279).
USDA activities reviewed and future priorities outlined
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman at the 78th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum on February 21 reviewed USDA achievements during her first year in office. She outlined priorities and key issues that USDA will address in the coming year, including implementation of a new farm bill stands once it is passed; working closely with the entire food chain to make sure that the U.S. has the best management practices, a strong system of checks and balances, and the ability to deal with any circumstance—deliberate or accidental—that might affect our food supply; continuing to create trade opportunities for America’s farmers and ranchers; working to ensure that phytosanitary and sanitary regulations are based on sound science and not allowing other countries to restrict products—including the products of biotechnology—under the banner of protectionism; and improving the food assistance safety net for low-income Americans. She added that science and technology are changing the way food is produced, marketed, and distributed in the U.S. and around the world. “Medicine and biotechnology are coming together, spurred on by human genome mapping,” she said. “In the not too distant future, we will be producing new crops and products that will help heal and make people healthier. This will create new opportunities for farmers.”
Antimicrobial approval requested for use on meat
Ecolab, Inc. has asked FDA to allow use of a mixture of peroxyacetic acid, octanoic acid, acetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, peroxyoctanoic acid, and 1-hydroxyethylidene-1,1-diphosphonic acid as an antimicrobial agent on meat parts, trim, and organs. Deadline for comments is March 13. Details are in the Federal Register of February 11 (67 FR 6265). For more information, contact Andrew D. Laumbach at FDA, 5100 Paint Branch Pkwy., College Park, MD 20740 (phone 202-418-3071).
Pierson named Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety
Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman on February 4 named Merle D. Pierson Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, saying that “His scientific expertise in food safety will serve USDA well as we continue to develop sound food safety policies based on science.” Pierson is internationally recognized for his work on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems and research on the reduction and control of foodborne pathogens. Pierson was most recently professor of food microbiology and safety at Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University.
Humane handling and slaughtering specialists begin work
FSIS announced on February 1 that its 17 District Veterinary Medical Specialists have begun to report for duty. They will be the primary contact in each district office for humane handling and slaughter issues, and will be the liaison between the district office and headquarters on all humane handling matters. “FSIS established these new positions because humanely handling and slaughtering animals continues to be a top priority,” said Margaret O’K. Glavin, Acting FSIS Administrator. “These experts will ensure that all plants, regardless of size, appropriately address their humane handling responsibilities and other slaughter issues.”
by NEIL H. MERMELSTEIN