April 9 Public Meeting to Seek E. coli O157:H7 Solutions

"E. coli O157:H7 - Addressing the Challenges, Moving Forward With Solutions" is the title of an April 9 public meeting sponsored by the U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service, which has yet to publish details on the location and time of the meeting. FSIS, part of USDA, said the purpose of the meeting is to discuss with stakeholders recent spikes in recalls/illnesses related to E. coli O157:H7, update them on FSIS initiatives, "and build a foundation for establishing solutions to address the challenges this pathogen causes."

Details will be made available in future issues of the FSIS Constituent Update (www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/2008_Constituent_Update/index.asp) and at www.fsis.usda.gov/News_&_Events/.

Earlier this month, Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Richard Raymond announced FSIS' newest office, the Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training, which results from the International HACCP Alliance headed by Dr. Kerri Harris to change the agency's approach to serving needs of small and very small plants. FSIS said the concept of the new office began in 2005, "when many in the industry questioned whether FSIS took the needs of small and very small establishments under consideration when HACCP was first implemented." As a result, FSIS held meetings to get input from such plants, joined the alliance at a December 2005 meeting, and set up a task force that developed the Strategic Implementation Plan to Strengthen Small and Very Small Plant Outreach. "This task force made a lot of progress," said Raymond, "but we realized that for long-term success, we needed to make the important function of training and outreach for small and very small plants a formal part of the agency."

Leading the new Office of Outreach, Employee Education and Training is Dr. Karlease Kelly, who FSIS said has been instrumental in leading the consolidation of outreach and training. "Ensuring that small plants get the exact resources they need to comply with any regulatory requirements is a true passion of mine," said Kelly. "I'm looking forward to furthering the Agency's goal of improving its outreach and training services for plant and agency personnel alike."

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