WASHINGTON – A series of public meetings will be conducted by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.) to discuss and receive public input on the agency's draft proposed guidance concerning Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (H.A.C.C.P.) Validation.

In March, F.S.I.S. made a preliminary draft of the validation guidance available in order to hear from the public earlier in the guidance-development process, as requested by stakeholders. The guidance does not create new requirements on establishments, but rather clarifies existing requirements and provides direction on how processors, especially small processors, can meet them.

The first public meeting will be held on June 14 from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on in the U.S.D.A. South Building, Jefferson Auditorium, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250. Comments on the preliminary draft are due on June 19.

F.S.I.S. plans to review the public comments on the preliminary guidance, and then announce an updated draft document in the Federal Register in July for a second round of comments. F.S.I.S. will hold two additional public meetings as part of the second comment period. Each meeting will include presentations, a question and answer period and a public comment period.

"The guidance is being created to help establishments understand existing requirements, and they do not impose new testing or microbiological requirements on establishments," assured Al Almanza, F.S.I.S. administrator. "By receiving public input, we can ensure the guidance is helpful to plant owners and operators."

Review the preliminary draft guidance and more information on validation on theF.S.I.S website.

F.S.I.S. encourages establishments and the public to submit comments by June 19 to: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, Md. 20705-5474.

Once finalized, F.S.I.S. will issue a press release with the details on the second and third public meetings.

Pre-registration for these meetings is encouraged. To pre-register, access theF.S.I.S. website. Indicate interest in providing public comment on the registration form.

For more information, contact Sheila Johnson, Congressional and Public Affairs Office, at (202) 690-6498 or by e-mail at[email protected].