The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ( USDA ) Food Safety and Inspection Service ( FSIS ) announced that it will expand and move ahead on the Salmonella Initiative Program ( SIP ) to help reduce Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products.
FSIS’ goal is to reduce and eliminate pathogens before products reach consumers, and the SIP will support those in the industry who want to utilize pathogen-preventing technologies and techniques.
“Prevention is the best way to protect consumers,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen. “This program will encourage innovation by the industry to make food safer while providing us with data and information we can use to protect public health.”
The voluntary, incentive-based program will allow participating establishments to operate under certain regulatory waivers in order to try new procedures, equipment or processing techniques to better control Salmonella. In return, SIP establishments collect product samples on each line during each shift of every day of production; establishments then use these samples to test for common foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella, campylobacter and generic E. coli, and share this internal food safety data with FSIS.
“Our goal is to reduce and eliminate pathogens before products reach consumers, and this program is one way to enlist establishments as partners in that effort,” said FSIS Administrator Al Almanza. “It will improve food safety at the plant level by encouraging industry to test for and take action to reduce pathogens. At the same time, it gives FSIS access to valuable information that will help us continue to develop the most effective policies to keep food safe.”
The notice announces several developments and changes regarding SIP, including allowing a limited number of establishments to operate with modified line speed as long as they participate in a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. The notice also sets new deadlines for establishments currently operating with regulatory waivers to apply for the program, addresses comments previously received from stakeholders, and invites further comments on SIP for 60 additional days.