Aug 5, 2003 (CIDRAP News) New safety and security guidelines for transporters and distributors of meat, poultry, and eggs to keep the products safe from intentional or unintentional contamination have been issued by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), a division of the US Department of Agriculture. Similar guidelines were issued to food processors in May 2002.
"The [new] guidelines provide a list of safety and security measures that may be taken to prevent contamination of meat, poultry, and egg products during loading and unloading, transportation, and in-transit storage. In these voluntary guidelines, we strongly encourage shippers and receivers, as well as transporters of these products, to develop controls for ensuring the condition of the products through all phases of distribution," says FSIS Administrator Dr. Garry L. McKee in a letter introductory to the guidelines.
The guidelines are divided into two groups. The first set provides measures to prevent the physical, chemical, radiological, or microbiological contamination of meat, poultry, and eggs. Some of the guidelines include developing a transportation safety plan that identifies potential vulnerabilities during the transportation and distribution chain. Another guideline advises designing and maintaining a warehousing food safety system that is adequately insulated and temperature-controlled.
The second set of guidelines details specific security measures for preventing contamination of food due to criminal or terrorist acts. Some of these guidelines include assessing vulnerabilities, securing facilities, conducting background checks on employees, and training employees to identify, prevent, or correct potential safety and security gaps.
The FSIS seeks public comment and response to a series of questions contained in the Federal Register notice for these guidelines. Of particular interest to FSIS are suggestions for improvement and any challenges that the guidelines may pose, especially for smaller transportation, distribution, and storage companies. Written comments should be submitted no later than Oct 3, 2003, to: FSIS Docket Room, US Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102, Cotton Annex, Washington, DC 20250-3700.
FSIS Safety and Security Guidelines for the Transportation and Distribution of Meat, Poultry and Egg Products
Public comment and specific questions from FSIS, Docket No. 03-15N
FSIS news release