The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced an expansion of the Salmonella Initiative Program (SIP) to help industry reduce foodborne pathogens in raw meat and poultry products. The agency has extended the comment period to September 12, 2011.

According to FSIS, the voluntary, incentive-based program allows “participating establishments to operate under certain regulatory waivers to try new procedures, equipment or processing techniques to better control Salmonella.” As a condition for participation, establishments selected for SIP must regularly collect product samples to test for Salmonella, campylobacter and generic E. coli, and then share the data with the agency.

FSIS has set new deadlines for establishments currently operating with regulatory waivers to apply for SIP and has allowed a “limited number of establishments to operate with modified line speed” which will be evaluated by a National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health study. See USDA Press Release, July, 8, 2011; and Federal Register, July 13, 2011.

Meanwhile, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced the availability of a draft document titled “Guidance for Industry: Questions and Answers Regarding the Final Rule, Prevention of Salmonella Enteritidis in Shell Eggs During Production, Storage, and Transportation.” The guidance offers compliance aid to egg producers and others covered under a final rule published on July 9, 2009. FDA requests comments on the draft guidance by September 12, 2011. Details of the final rule were included in Issue 310 of this Update. See Federal Register, July 13, 2011.