Notice on Salmonella Initiative Program changes published
By Meat&Poultry Staff
WASHINGTON – A notice on policy developments and changes regarding the Food Safety and Inspection Service’s Salmonella Initiative Program (SIP) was published in the July 13 Federal Register, according to the American Meat Institute.
As described in a January 2008 Federal Register notice, SIP grants waivers of regulatory requirements with the condition that establishments test for Salmonella, Campylobacter (if applicable) and generic E. coli or other indicator organisms and share all sample results with FSIS.

The primary policy decisions regarding SIP discussed in the July 13 notice include:

  • Establishments that have received waivers under SIP terms and conditions are to begin submitting microbial testing data to FSIS within 60 days of publication of this notice.
  • Establishments currently operating under other waivers will have 120 days from publication of this notice to participate in SIP or drop their waivers and return to conventional inspection.
  • SIP establishments must agree to conditions prescribed in the January 2008 Federal Register notice, except that enumeration of weekly postchill samples will not be required.
  • SIP establishments are not routinely required to provide FSIS with isolates, but, if requested, establishments must work with FSIS on a mutually agreeable means for doing so.
  • FSIS is selecting no more than five establishments that applied in 2008 to receive waivers of regulations restricting line speeds and, if necessary, FSIS will re-open the application process until five establishments have been selected.
  • A SIP establishment will not be suspended or lose its waiver solely because of its Salmonella testing results.
  • FSIS is considering reducing the required frequency of testing for SIP establishments that meet the Salmonella performance standard for at least six months and can maintain that level of process control with reduced testing frequency.
  • FSIS is also considering reducing the required frequency of testing for small and very small establishments that participate in SIP.
  • FSIS intends to conduct its own unannounced, smallset sampling to verify the consistent performance of all establishments, including those participating in SIP.
  • FSIS will begin evaluating whether establishments operating under SIP waivers are meeting the new Salmonella and Campylobacterperformance standards with sample sets beginning in and after July 2011 as announced in a Federal Register notice of March 21, 2011 (76Fed. Reg. 15282).

The notice also responds to comments submitted on SIP and marks the reopening of the comment period for 60 days.