WASHINGTON – A proposed rule announced by the US Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) on March 18 would supplement a 2001 proposed rule for ready-to-eat (RTE) and partially cooked meat and poultry products and eliminate trichinae control requirements in pork. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said in a release that it is seeking comment on the rule that was first proposed to establish food safety performance standards RTE and all partially heat-treated meat and poultry products.

The finalized rule would remove provisions for the prescribed treatment of pork products because it is no longer needed.

“FSIS’ Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations require every federally inspected establishment to identify and control food safety hazards that are reasonably likely to occur, making prescriptive trichinae regulations no longer necessary. Under this proposed rule, establishments will still be required to control for the risk of trichinae and other parasites,” the agency’s statement said.

Thanks to compliance with the science-based approach of HACCP programs used in the pork industry, trichinae-related infections of commercially produced pork has decreased significantly. A compliance guide has been posted on the FSIS website (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/wps/portal/fsis/topics/regulatory-compliance/compliance-guides-index) in the event the rule is finalized. The guidelines are designed to ensure compliance, especially among small and very small operations, by providing details on effective controls for controlling trichinae in RTE and not ready-to-eat pork.

The release also addressed its proposal to consolidate the regulations of thermally processed, commercially sterile meat and poultry products, which includes canned products. The proposed rule would clarify regulatory requirements and eliminate redundant equipment descriptions while updating wording to reflect FSIS’ organizational structure.

Comments are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register, and may be submitted online at: http://www.regulations.gov.