WASHINGTON – The US Dept. of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced new best practice guidelines for the meat and poultry industry on March 8.

In response to multiple consumer complaints about possible product contamination due to metal, plastic or other foreign materials, the FSIS plans to prioritize faster response time for recalls.

“FSIS has placed renewed emphasis on industry responding to customer complaints of foreign materials in meat and poultry and, as required, reporting those incidents to the agency within 24 hours once the determination has been made that the product is adulterated,” said FSIS Administrator Carmen Rottenberg. “We will continue to work with industry and offer guidance to assist them in complying with agency regulations.”

During 2012, the agency required all establishments to report recalls within 24 hours if they have shipped or received an adulterated product. The requirement has been in place, but the agency said there has been an increase recently. According to the current recalls and alerts page on the FSIS website, dozens of recalls have happened over the last year regarding foreign contamination in chicken, sausage and other meat products. 

“FSIS intensified efforts and made presentations in 2018 to industry explaining that product containing foreign materials is adulterated even when a physical food safety hazard is not present,” the agency said in the press release. “Additionally, the agency hosted two industry meetings to discuss an industry-drafted document of best practices for responding to foreign material customer complaints, which was published in August 2018.”

The guidance information can also be applied to other consumer complaints of other adulterated or misbranded products, according to USDA FSIS. 

All of the updated guidelines are available on the agency’s website.