WASHINGTON – Draft guidelines to assist meat and poultry establishments that want to improve operations by using in-plant video monitoring were issued Oct. 14 by the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Titled Compliance Guidelines for Use of Video or Other Electronic Monitoring or Recording Equipment in Federally Inspected Establishments, the purpose of the draft guidance is to make firms aware that video or other electronic monitoring or recording equipment may be used in federally inspected establishments where meat and poultry are processed.

Establishments may choose to use video or other electronic recording equipment for various purposes, including ensuring livestock are handled humanely, good commercial practices are followed, monitoring product inventory or conducting establishment security. Records from video or other electronic monitoring or recording equipment may also be used to meet FSIS' record-keeping requirements.

"Today's action fulfills a recommendation from the November 2008 USDA Office of the Inspector General's [OIG] report that called for FSIS to determine whether video monitoring would be beneficial in slaughter establishments," said Al Almanza, FSIS administrator. "In agreeing to that OIG recommendation, FSIS committed to issuing compliance guidelines for using video records and a directive clarifying FSIS' authority to access establishment video records. FSIS recognizes the importance of this resource."

FSIS is publishing the draft guide while pursuing Office of Management and Budget approval of its use under the federal Paperwork Reduction Act. Once FSIS receives OMB approval, it will issue the final guidelines. At that time, FSIS may also make changes to the guidelines based on comments received on this draft guideline.

The draft guidance can be found at: www.fsis.usda.gov/Significant_Guidance/index.asp.

FSIS seeks comments on or before Dec. 14 through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail to: Docket Clerk, FSIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, George Washington Carver Center Room 2-217, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Beltsville, Md., 20705. All comments submitted must identify FSIS and the docket number FSIS-2010-0016. Comments will be available for public inspection and posted without change atwww.regulations.gov.