Expert Report

Review of the Methodology Proposed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service for Risk-Based Surveillance of In-Commerce Activities: A Letter Report (2009)

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The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is the agency responsible for enforcing federal regulatory statutes applicable to meat, poultry, and egg products. The goal of the regulations is to ensure that the products are wholesome and safe for human consumption. This letter report, produced at the request of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, reviews new methods the agency has proposed to organize its inspection of businesses and their facilities. The report concludes that a risk-based approach for surveillance activities is an appropriate goal and commends the Food Safety Inspection Service for its efforts to develop a systematic approach to surveillance of businesses. The report offers several recommendations for the agency to consider for improving proposed methods.

Key Messages

  • It was difficult for the committee to evaluate fully the concept and use of the inherent hazard risk consideration because of insufficient description and lack of clear direction for its use in categorization of facilities into risk groups.
  • Surveillance by other authorities may be the primary risk consideration as a selection criterion for surveillance prioritization.
  • The 13 business types identified by FSIS adequately cover the array of in-commerce facilities that handle meat, poultry, and egg products.
  • The committee found that the consumer susceptibility risk consideration is not equally applicable to all institutions. This limits the value of this risk consideration in prioritizing surveillance frequency for all types of institutions, some of which serve less susceptible populations.
  • The committee agrees with most of the food defense vulnerability rankings, but it believes rendering facilities could also qualify for the high risk category.