USDA announces proposed rule to amend egg products inspection regulations
WASHINGTON – On Jan. 9, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a critical step forward in making egg products safer for Americans to eat. FSIS is proposing to amend the egg products inspection regulations by requiring official plants that process egg products to develop hazard analysis and critical control points (HACCP) systems and sanitation standard operating procedures (sanitation SOPs) and to meet other sanitation requirements consistent with the meat and poultry regulations. FSIS is proposing that official plants will be required to produce egg products in such a way that the finished product is free of detectable pathogens. The regulatory amendment also uses agency’s resources more efficiently and removes unnecessary regulatory obstacles to innovation.
FSIS is proposing to eliminate those current regulatory provisions not consistent with that of the meat and poultry regulations. The proposed rule aims to modernize food safety inspection systems at egg products plants. Under the HACCP system, plants will be able to tailor a food safety system that best fits their particular facility and equipment. Furthermore, by removing prescriptive regulations, egg products plants will have the flexibility and the incentive to innovate new means to achieve enhanced food safety.
“As we continue to modernize inspection systems and processes, we are committed to strengthening consistency across the services that FSIS inspection personnel carry out for the consuming public,” said Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Carmen Rottenberg. “This proposed rule will ensure the same level of inspection and oversight of all regulated products as we carry out our public health mission.”
In addition, FSIS will be further fortifying the safety of the American consumer by taking over jurisdiction of egg substitutes, which pose the same risk as egg products and will be treated with the same level of scrutiny and care.
The impact cost for the proposed rule is mitigated by the fact that 93% of egg products plants already use a written HACCP plan that addresses at least one production step in their process, while also alleviating the unnecessary costs associated with the current prescriptive regulations.
There will be a 120-day period for comment once the rule is published in the Federal Register.