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From Health Law Daily, March 28, 2016

Agency not terribly concerned about the pork bacteria your mother warned of

By Kayla R. Bryant, J.D.

The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) believes that pork producers will be able to adequately control the presence of the bacteria trichinae by using the agency’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system. The agency published a Proposed rule to eliminate certain “redundant trichinae control requirements” that it finds inconsistent with HACCP regulations by eliminating the Trichinella Approved Laboratory Program (TALP) and consolidating regulations governing items such as canned meat or poultry food products (Proposed rule, 81 FR 17337, March 28, 2017).

Supplemental proposal. The FSIS originally proposed some new standards for all ready-to-eat (RTE) and partially heat-treated meat and poultry products in February 2001 (66 FR 12590). This proposal included rescinding requirements in meat inspection regulations regarding trichinae elimination in pork and pork products that are inconsistent with HACCP. Due to the amount of time that has passed since the 2001 Proposed rule, the FSIS issued the newest amendments as a supplemental Proposed rule, re-proposing the trichinae requirement elimination and issuing new proposals to combine meat and poultry canning regulations, improve clarity, and remove redundancies.

Trichinae. The supplemental Proposed rule will allow pork facilities some flexibility to determine whether products need to be treated for trichinae and how to do so. The agency noted that many establishments already include trichinae measures in their plans and programs. Under the proposed regulations, all establishments would be required to assess whether trichinae is a hazard. If so, they would assess whether to employ special measures to eliminate the live bacteria or include special cooking instructions on product labeling. If the rule is finalized, the FSIS will end TALP, which only includes one laboratory at this time, in order to better employ agency resources.

Comments submitted regarding trichinae control from trade associations, meat and poultry companies, and a farmer-owned cooperative largely supported the elimination of the control regulations. Some comments expressed concern that safe handling labeling informing consumers of the need to cook the meat thoroughly would be insufficient, as some products may appear done when they are not, and consumers with language barriers would not be able to rely on such labeling.

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