The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has proposed new traceback measures to better control and prevent pathogens from triggering foodborne illnesses and outbreaks. Particularly concerned with meat contaminated with Escherichia coli (E. coli), FSIS plans to “move quickly to identify the supplier of the product and any processors who received contaminated product from the supplier, once confirmation is received.” FSIS, which has provided industry guidelines on the matter, requests comments by July 6, 2012. See FSIS Press Release, May 2, 2012; Federal Register, May 7, 2012.  

FSIS has also issued a proposed rule that would remove the food preservatives sodium benzoate, sodium propionate and benzoic acid from a list of substances prohibited for use in meat or poultry products. Under the proposal, the Food and Drug Administration would continue to approve new safety uses of these substances in meat or poultry products while FSIS would approve them for suitability. FSIS requests comments by July 6. See Federal Register, May 7, 2012.  

The agency has also issued a final rule requiring establishments to prepare and maintain recall procedures, notify the agency within 24 hours when an adulterated or misbranded meat or poultry product that could harm consumers has entered commerce, and document each reassessment of their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system food safety plans. The provisions are part of the Food, Conservation and Energy Act of 2008. See Federal Register, May 8, 2012.  

In addition, FSIS has issued guidance clarifying the necessary steps establishments should take to ensure that their HACCP food safety systems are effective in preventing foodborne illness. Called “validation,” the process involves the scientific or technical support used in designing HACCP systems and the evidence demonstrating that the systems have achieved the “critical operational parameters” documented in such support. The agency requests comments by July 9. See Federal Register, May 9, 2012.