The policy includes new trace-back measures to allow the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to control pathogens earlier and prevent them from starting outbreaks. Investigations will now take place earlier and identify additional potentially contaminated products when E.coli O157:H7 is found through routine controls.
“The Agency will move quickly to identify the supplier of the product and any processors who received contaminated product from the supplier, once confirmation is received. This proposed change in policy gives FSIS the opportunity to better prevent contaminated product from reaching consumers,” said USDA.
Three provisions from the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008 will also be implemented, requiring establishments to prepare and maintain recall procedures, to notify FSIS within 24 hours that an infected meat product has entered the food chain, and to document each reassessment of their hazard control and critical control point (HACCP) system food safety plans.
USDA under-secretary for food safety Dr Elisabeth Hagen said: “The additional safeguards we are announcing today will improve our ability to prevent food-borne illness by strengthening our food safety infrastructure. Together, these measures will provide us with more tools to protect our food supply, resulting in stronger public health protections for consumers.”
FSIS has also released draft guidance for meat plants on how to implement the HACCP system in case of food safety hazards, and is now open for comments.