US issues guidance on new food technology tests

By Linda Rano

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food, Meat, Fsis

The US Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a
guidance for professionals in the food industry on how to request a
waiver of food safety and regulatory requirements to allow for
testing of new technology.

The Guidance on Requesting a Waiver of Food Safety and Inspection Service Regulatory Requirements​ advises meat and poultry establishments, egg production plants, companies that manufacture and sell technology to official establishments, and other interested parties, about the procedure for obtaining a regulatory waiver to test new technology for a limited period. This procedure forms part of what the FSIS calls its "flexible procedures to foster the development and use of new technologies"​ in meat packing and egg firms, which afford companies some leeway in introducing new processing and production methods, whilst maintaining food safety. Some of the information is already contained in the FSIS document Guidance Procedures for Notification and Protocol Submission of New Technology​ (February 2004). However, with the new guidance, the information is presented in a more targeted and concise manner. FSIS defines new technology as "new, or new applications of, equipment, substances, methods, processes, or procedures affecting the slaughter of livestock and poultry or processing of meat, poultry, or egg products" ​An official establishment​ is one requiring FSIS inspections, which includes meat, poultry and egg companies. Procedure ​ Manufacturers must notify the FSIS in writing of their intention to use a new technology. If the intended use of the new technology might affect product safety, the safety of inspection programme personnel, interferes with inspection procedures or requires a change in FSIS regulations, then the establishment needs to submit a protocol - a "detailed plan​" of a treatment or procedure - requesting an in-plant trial to collect data on the effects of using the new technology. It also needs to request a waiver. The waiver request takes the form of a written request, which includes data proving that the trial is "scientifically sound​" and that the new technology will facilitate improvements. However, issuing the waiver should not conflict with the provisions of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Act or the Egg Products Inspection Act. In Guidance Procedures for Notification and Protocol Submission of New Technology​ (February 2004) examples of new technology are given for which a protocol is likely to be filed. For instance, new technologies for the reprocessing of contaminated poultry carcasses on-line would demand a temporary waiver of the FSIS regulation on contamination of carcasses (381.9(b)(1)) In-plant trials cannot begin until a letter from the FSIS has been received authorising the waiver of regulatory provisions. The waiver may be accorded to help facilitate improvements. Validated laboratory results, peer-reviewed journal articles or prototype production results would justify a waiver being accorded. If the waiver is granted the FSIS will review the data that is developed in the trial to ascertain whether the purpose of the waiver is being met. In Guidance Procedures for Notification and Protocol Submission of New Technology​ the FSIS confirms that the duration of an in-plant trial should be limited to the time needed to validate the performance of the new technology under commercial conditions, which it says should normally be between six and twelve months. The Guidance on Requesting a Waiver of Food Safety and Inspection Service Regulatory Requirements​ can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/op/technology/New_Technology_Waiver.pdf

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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