FSIS Offers Salmonella Compliance Guide

The document will help establishments with fewer than 500 workers ensure safe production of ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has posted a compliance guide to help small and very small meat establishments ensure their ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products are not contaminated with Salmonella or other pathogens.

The 19-page PDF document explains the guide is needed because sampling from 2000 to 2008 showed a higher level of positive Salmonella samples at these facilities (very small is defined by the HACCP final rule as an establishment with fewer than 10 employees or less than $2.5 million in annual sales; a small establishment has at least 10 but fewer than 500 employees):

"These data show that although levels of Salmonella remain low in FSIS-regulated RTE products, contaminated products continue to be detected. RTE products found to be positive for Salmonella spp. will be considered adulterated and will be recalled if they are released into the marketplace. The report also showed that head cheese, pork barbecue, and sausage products were the sources of about half of all Salmonella positive samples. This may have been the result of under processing of these products.

"All but one of the Salmonella-positive samples were obtained from establishments with Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) sizes of small or very small, and most positive samples were obtained from establishments employing control Alternative 2b (use of an antimicrobial treatment to control pathogen growth) and Alternative 3 (sanitation only). Establishments in Alternatives 2b and 3 were sampled at a higher rate in risk-based sampling programs, which could have led to an increased level of positives from these establishments, but the higher level of positives may also be indicative of lack of adequate sanitation and control procedures."

The agency asks the small and very small meat establishments manufacturing these products to follow the document. FSIS wants to receive comments on it, as well, by June 21. To comment, visit www.regulations.gov and search for docket number FSIS-2010-0026.

This and other guides are posted at the FSIS Significant Guidance Documents website.

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