U.S.D.A. issues Salmonella compliance guide

by Keith Nunes
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WASHINGTON — The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture has published a set of compliance guidelines to help small and very small meat and poultry processors reduce the incidence of Salmonella in ready-to-eat products.

“The prevention of food-borne illness is our top priority,” said Al Almanza, administrator of the F.S.I.S. “These guidelines spell out F.S.I.S.’s recommended best practices when it comes to producing food items that consumers usually do not cook before eating. Our goal is to help industry apply some of the recent lessons we have learned so they can prevent future problems, resulting in safer ready-to-eat food for consumers.”

A study conducted by the F.S.I.S. of Salmonella testing results between the years 2005 to 2008 found that all but one of the Salmonella-positive samples were taken from facilities that had a hazard analysis and critical control point (HACCP) plan and fell within the agency’s classification of being a small or very small company. Most of the positive samples were taken from facilities that used an antimicrobial treatment to control pathogen growth or only used sanitation.

The U.S.D.A. said that in light of several illness-related recalls in 2010, the F.S.I.S. improved the guidelines for ready-to-eat meat and poultry products with special emphasis on the causes of the recalls. In some instances pathogens were introduced to the products after it had undergone processing and when sauces or other ingredients that may not have undergone a lethality treatment were added.

“This compliance guide illustrates measures to help prevent contamination in these types of situations, such as the application of a spice or sauce to products after cooking or curing,” according to the F.S.I.S.

To learn more about the new compliance guidelines, visit www.fsis.usda.gov/Significant_Guidance/index.asp.

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