WASHINGTON – The comment period on the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (F.S.I.S.) Draft Guidance: H.A.C.C.P. System Validation is being extended until June 19 to allow adequate time for distribution and comment by interested parties, according to the American Meat Institute (A.M.I.).

The draft guidance to aid small and very small plants in meeting H.A.C.C.P. validation requirements was provided for public comment in a March 19 letter to A.M.I. and other industry trade associations. After the initial comment period, F.S.I.S. is expected to publish a revised guidance document in the Federal Register that will provide an additional opportunity for public comment.

Concern has been raised by the guidance document regarding potential additional requirements imposed on plants. "A.M.I. is pleased that the agency has given the industry an opportunity to express its concerns during the development of its validation guidance,” said James Hodges, A.M.I. executive vice president. “A.M.I. looks forward to working with the agency to develop a workable document that provides clarity for both the industry and F.S.I.S. personnel. It is important that all parties have a clear understanding of the regulatory requirements and how they should be implemented."

Signed by F.S.I.S. Administrator Almanza, the March 19 letter responds to an earlier Sept. 22, 2009 letter sent by meat and poultry trade associations containing suggestions for clarifying existing validation requirements. The draft guidance and associated information can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/PDF/HACCP_Validation_Ltrs.pdf.