Processors could be under a new microscope
What FSIS’ plans to make public its establishment-specific data means to processors.
In the past, the daily observations and findings made by the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) were never shared with the public. Although the agency historically has issued a quarterly report summarizing the overall statistics of its inspection activities (such as the total number of non-compliance reports, or NRs, issued to the industry in a given period), the agency has never associated the establishments it regulates by name with these general statistics. As a result, there was no mechanism for the public (or even the beef industry as a whole) to know which establishments were experiencing the most difficulty operationally — whether maintaining sanitation, receiving the most NRs or finding the most pathogens. According to FSIS, this is all about to change.
To the surprise of many, the agency has just released its “Establishment-Specific Data Release Strategic Plan.” According to the strategic plan, FSIS intends to begin sharing establishment-specific data with the public. The program will be phased, according to the agency.
In Phase One, the agency will supplement the existing FSIS Meat, Poultry and Egg Inspection Directory by including additional information identifying the establishment’s HACCP size (small, medium or large) and the products it produces.
In Phase Two, the agency will begin reporting more specific data relating to the agency’s daily inspection activities for each establishment. This will include, for each federally-regulated facility, the existing FSIS data sets on testing results for Shiga Toxin-producing Escherichia coliin raw, non-intact beef products, and for Listeria monocytogenesand Salmonellaresults in RTE products.
In Phase Three, FSIS will release additional data sets which will include, among other things, testing and serotype data on Salmonellaand Campylobacterin young chickens and turkeys, Salmonellaand Campylobacterin comminuted poultry, Salmonellain raw ground beef, routine chemical residue testing data in meat and poultry products, and advanced meat recovery testing data. According to the agency, a new FSIS Web portal will be developed to share this information.
While meat processors have always operated under the microscope of FSIS scrutiny, they now have a new challenge. Not only will processors (as well as all others in the industry) be judged by the inspectors within their facilities, they will be judged by the public and market as well.
Begin planning today to make sure that when that day comes, your FSIS data set will impress.