The American Association of Meat Processors (AAMP) has developed a Web page specifically for the FSIS proposed HACCP validation issue. Individuals can go directly to From the homepage they can click on the first hot topic (Validation of HACCP System Information), and that will take them to all the information AAMP has collected thus far. The specific address

The Web site contains much more than simply providing a link to the FSIS Validation Guidance document. It specifically contains:

•         An overview of validation (AAMPlifier – October 1, 2008)
•         A summary of where the issue stands currently (Capitol Line-Up – April 1, 2010)
•         Template letter – generic (where companies can simply include their name and submit it on their letterhead)
•         Template letter – detailed (where companies can include specific information as to their HACCP food safety systems, number of HACCP plans, number of products produced, potential costs, etc.)
•         Talking points
•         Validation cost calculator for initial validation and ongoing verification microbial testing – an interactive Microsoft EXCEL spreadsheet
•         Draft validation guidance documents
•         AAMP’s request for extension of the comment period
•         Link to other validation guidance material provided by FSIS

The validation cost calculator is an interactive Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and is one of the most useful tools to demonstrate the potential costs associated with initial validation and ongoing verification testing, the organization says. AAMP has developed this spreadsheet in conjunction with AAMP former President Jason Jennings, who is a small independent processor. The first sheet provides and overview and key assumptions that were made. The second sheet is a user friendly spreadsheet that allows establishments to choose which HACCP plans they are utilizing within their facility and they can also input the amount of products within each HACCP plan that may have to be validated. The microbial testing costs were provided by one third party microbiological laboratory, so they are legitimate, but the establishment can change those figures if they have the costs from the laboratory they utilize. The establishment can modify the shipping costs as well.

Some assumptions needed to be made in the development of the spreadsheet. These assumptions included the initial sampling amount, the ongoing sampling amount, and when sampling would occur. In the opinion of AAMP, the draft guidance document clearly outlines that extensive microbial sampling will be required to validate each establishment’s products. Depending on how the draft compliance guide on HACCP systems validation is interpreted by the establishment owner and inspection personnel of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), this validation initiative could potentially be devastating for the affected group of inspected (state and federal) independent very small and small processors.

All of the information on the AAMP Web site is open to the general public (i.e., AAMP members and non-members). The AAMP Board of Directors felt as though this issue is so very important that it must get into the hands of all processors as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Thus far, AAMP has requested an extension to the comment period, but have not gotten any written grant of extension. Therefore, it is strongly advising that comments be submitted by April 19, 2010. Individuals wishing to comment should submit comments to the email address or to the Docket Clerk, USDA, FSIS, Room 2-2127, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, MD 20705. After April 19th, FSIS will begin its review on the comments it receives and its process of deciding how it will proceed with respect to the validation of HACCP systems.

Source: AAMP

Federal court rejects NMA injunction against downer rule

A federal appeals court revived a California law Wednesday that bans the sale of pork products made from pigs that were too feeble to walk before they were slaughtered.

On Wednesday, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said that efforts to restrict the kind of animal that can be sold for human consumption didn't amount to regulating slaughterhouse operations, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Federal law regulates the meat inspection process; states are free to decide which animals may be turned into meat," Chief Judge Alex Kozinski said in the 3-0 ruling.

He said California's bans on dragging or mechanically pushing downer animals might conflict with federal law, but that the meat association hadn't presented enough evidence to justify blocking that portion of the state law.

NMA issued a release stating its disappointed at the decision by the Ninth Circuit. The court has, for the first time, characterized nonambulatory swine as a “kind of animal” and therefore not subject to USDA inspection regulations at a USDA-inspected slaughter facility if a state requires immediate euthanasia. Further, the decision fails to address the huge distinction between animals – in this case swine in particular – that are fatigued by travel and are therefore at rest, from animals that are physically unable to stand up and move.

“NMA will discuss options with its associates and legal counsel,” said NMA CEO Barry Carpenter. “This California law fails to distinguish between livestock at rest and livestock that have no independent mobility and that is a critical and potentially illegal failing for a state law that applies to animals on the premises of a USDA-inspected plant and under the jurisdiction of the Federal Meat Inspection Act.”

Source: San Francisco Chronicle, NMA

Foster Farms announces cooking contest

Foster Farms announced the call for entries for its first-ever Foster Farms West Coast Chicken Cooking Contest. The contest's champion will earn a prize of $10,000 plus a one-year supply of fresh Foster Farms chicken.

The company is carrying on the tradition of the now defunct National Chicken Cooking Contest, the nation's longest running and most lucrative cooking competition, but bringing it closer to home on the West Coast. Home, amateur and professional chefs residing in California, Oregon and Washington are encouraged to submit their prized, original chicken recipes for consideration. Recipes must feature fresh Foster Farms chicken and should be inspired by local ingredients as a testament to Foster Farms' commitment to foods that are fresh, locally-grown and always natural.

The deadline to enter is June 30, 2010 at 11:59:59 p.m. PDT and the contest will culminate with finals held in San Francisco in September 2010 during National Chicken Month.

"As a longstanding West Coast brand devoted to the fresh, natural foods of our region, we want to encourage consumers in our area to celebrate local tastes and flavors with chicken as the centerpiece," said Ira Brill, director of marketing and advertising services for Foster Farms. "Fresh chicken continues to be a nutritious, affordable mealtime staple on which consumers rely and they're always looking for new ways to enjoy it. With the Foster Farms West Coast Chicken Cooking Contest, we're hoping to inspire new ways to prepare locally-grown chicken."

Foster Farms will host three regional recipe judging semifinals in California, Oregon and Washington in late summer and early fall 2010 culminating with The Final Cook-off in mid-September at one of San Francisco's most prestigious culinary institutions.

Fifteen semifinalists will receive $100 and their recipes will be judged in the regional competitions. Six regional winners - two from each state - will receive $1,000. The six regional winners will head to The Final Cook-off in San Francisco to compete for the grand prize of $10,000 and a one-year supply of fresh Foster Farms chicken. Finalists will receive travel and lodging accommodations.

Source: Foster Farms