On Friday 18 March, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) released a joint statement confirming the governmental health bodies’ joint interest in reforming “redundant” meat regulation.
The new rule proposes to get rid of out-of-date trichinella controls on pork products and harmonise regulation on thermally processed and commercially sterile meat and poultry products
Trichinella is a type of parasitic ringworm that infests the intestines of various animals, including pigs.
Law for ready-to-eat
The consolidation and streaming of regulation will supplement a 2001 rule proposed by the FSIS, which sought to establish food safety standards for all ready-to-eat and heat-treated meat and poultry products.
Under the new rule, which has not been finalised by the US government, old provisions for the prescribed treatment of pork products will be removed. FSIS’ hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) regulations – a food safety management system – requires all government-inspected food businesses to identify and control food safety hazards that are likely to occur. This, according to the FSIS, means “prescriptive trichinae regulations [are] no longer necessary”.
The new rule does not mean that meat businesses will no longer be required to control the risk of trichinella and other parasites. Producers will have to develop science-based approaches to preventing it. FSIS said compliance with this HACCP rule has been effective in reducing trichinae and, without providing figures, said the risk of infection had “decreased substantially”.
These proposed standards for the prevention of trichinella infection are consistent with international methods established by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the Codex Alimentarius Commission, according to the FSIS.
FSIS’ proposed rule on thermally processed meat and poultry products will see the body make minor changes to improve the clarity of existing regulation. It has also announced plans to remove outdated equipment descriptions and update its regulatory terminology.