The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued instructions for inspection program personnel (IPP) to follow “when verifying that large official establishments (with 500 or more employees) that produce meat and poultry products have prepared and are maintaining required written recall procedures.” According to FSIS, the notice complies with a May 8, 2012, final rule outlining requirements for notifying the agency of adulterated or misbranded products and maintaining written recall procedures. It also calls on IPP to remind large establishments “of the availability of food defense plan guidance because food defense plans also facilitate the removal of adulterated products from commerce.”

Although food defense plans are currently voluntary, FSIS has stressed that their purpose is to help meat and poultry companies “respond to intentional contamination of products” and may be used with other recall systems. Written recall procedures, however, must “specify how the official establishment will decide whether to conduct a product recall and the procedures it will follow should it decide that one is necessary.” Establishments do not need to file these procedures with FSIS but must make them available to inspectors upon request.