Help us reduce label processing time, says regulator

By Charlotte Eyre

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Fsis, Food

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is calling on food
processors to submit proposals to reduce the amount
of time taken to authorize labeling information.

In a consultation on proposals to revise how it approves the marking, labeling and packaging of meat, poultry and egg products, the FSIS says it wants to change a process that currently takes about 3,000 hours longer than its should. With meat being one of the most dangerous food products in terms of food-borne pathogens, regulators are increasingly facing the logistical nightmare of monitoring every stage of the processing procedure, without creating too many problems or extra costs for manufacturers. "The agency is revising the information collection based on revised estimates of the number of establishments and the time necessary to complete forms, which support a finding of more total burden hours - 85,508 - than there are in the approved information collection - 82, 348," ​the FSIS said in a consultation published in the Federal Register. Currently, meat and poultry manufacturers are required to create consumer labels that comply with FSIS regulations for all their products. They must then send the sketched copies labels to the FSIS for approval, along with a completed form, keeping copies of all documents for themselves. "FSIS protects the public by verifying that meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome, unadulterated and properly labeled and packaged,"​ the FSIS said. However, the process "takes an average of 30 minutes per response,"​ the FSIS added, using up too far too much of the agency's time. The FSIS is interested in the industry's stance on whether the agency does indeed need to collect this amount of information, whether manufacturers feel their time estimates are correct, and how the quality, utility and clarity of the information can be improved. If the rules are changed in the next two years, they will have to be implemented by January 1, 2010, according to the FSIS. The FSIS has the aim of making "orderly adjustments to new labeling requirements without unduly exposing customers to outdated labels",​ the regulator said earlier this year.

Related topics: Regulation

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