HACCP to affect seafood, too

As the U.S.Department of Agriculture moves towards implementing a Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP)-based inspection system, nearly three-quarters of existing regulations could be simplified or even eliminated, according to USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

Food labeling regulations are among those to be changed. "Some of our labeling rules limit the flexibility companies need to produce nutritionally improved meat and poultry products that consumers want," FSIS Administrator Michael R. Taylor explains. "By modernizing these rules and streamlining others, we can reduce unnecessary burdens on industry and improve the way we serve America's consumers." So far, FSIS has expanded the kinds of product labels no longer requiring prior approval and, where approval is necessary, reduced the required reviews from two to one. FSIS also is proposing to allow familiar terms, such as "low fat" or "light turkey," on products like hot dogs or turkey ham made with substitute ingredients that change the nutrition profile. As part of the agency's strategy to overhaul the nation's meat and poultry inspection system, USDA is switching from its antiquated visual inspection system to a science-based HACCP system that will better prevent safety hazards, including microbiological contamination (see PW, Jan. '96, p. 62). Under HACCP, packagers analyze their food production process from start to finish--including the packaging function--to identify potential safety hazards. Steps are implemented to control hazards at these points, with regular monitoring and record keeping to ensure the integrity of the system. A final rule from FSIS is expected sometime this year.

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