WASHINGTON — Comments were submitted on Nov. 20 by the American Meat Institute in support of Food Safety and Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.) Rule 2008–0039 that would allow inspected establishments to participate in cooperative interstate shipments of meat and poultry products.

A.M.I. expressed the rule would in no way impose an added burden on companies’ existing operations. And by participating, these facilities are agreeing to the stringent regulatory requirements imposed by the statute.

"A.M.I. supports the rule because it adheres to the strict standard set in the enabling statute that state-inspected facilities that wish to ship meat and poultry products in interstate commerce comply with the same regulatory requirements applicable to federally inspected establishment," the comments state. "This fundamental proposition, that the playing field be level for all companies engaging in interstate commerce, was a critical element in securing passage of the statutory provisions that authorized this rule."

Language ensuring that state establishments selected to be eligible to ship in interstate commerce be "in compliance with all requirements under the Act [the Federal Meat Inspection Act] and the implementing regulations in this chapter," must be contained in the rule, the statement added.

According to their comments, A.M.I. also supports the proposed enforcement provisions that would require selected establishments to provide F.S.I.S. officials with "access to all establishment records required under the Act and the implementing regulations in this chapter." The comments explain the approach taken by F.S.I.S. throughout this proposed rule, which is to treat selected establishments that voluntarily request the opportunity to participate in a cooperative interstate shipment program in a manner identical to federally inspected establishments. This should be done in a way that is both consistent with the provisions and intent of the enabling law, as well as ensuring the equitable application of the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and their attendant regulations, the comments state.

"To that end, A.M.I. encourages the agency to retain the [pre-mentioned] provisions to help ensure first and foremost the safety of the meat and poultry supply but also to ensure equity in the marketplace," the comments stated.


here to read the comments in their entirety.