FSIS addresses chemical residues on meat, poultry

by Erica Shaffer
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WASHINGTON – The Food Safety and Inspection Service has a new standardized approach to handle those rare occasions when sample results from livestock or poultry carcasses reveal residues of chemicals for which neither the US Food and Drug Administration nor the US Environmental Protection Agency have set tolerances or regulatory levels.

Under the new approach, FSIS will derive a “de minimis level” (DML) for the given chemical. If the chemical is below the DML, FSIS said it is confident that any public health concern is nonexistent or negligible. If testing finds carcasses to contain levels of a chemical above the DML, FSIS will notify the relevant establishment — as well as suppliers of the source animals — about the presence of the chemical. FSIS will also notify the FDA, EPA or other appropriate federal agencies for possible traceback investigations and consideration of potential mitigation actions.

However, FSIS said the agency will consider conducting regular, routine sampling for a chemical that is found above the DML on a “more than occasional basis.” Additionally, the agency will not apply the mark of inspection until the establishment achieves test results at or under the DML.

“Improved testing methodology in recent years has made it possible for FSIS to collect more information about each meat or poultry sample analyzed in our labs, including the presence of compounds that we previously could not detect,” said Deputy Under Secretary Al Almanza. “The new, structured approach we are announcing today is part of FSIS’ ongoing modernization efforts to implement science-based measures that fill gaps in existing public health policy.”

FSIS is accepting comments on the new policy. Comments may be submitted via the Federal eRulemaking Portal at: www.regulations.gov or by mail addressed to: Docket Clerk, US Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700.
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