The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has issued a Draft Guideline detailing the Agency’s expectations of companies that identify foreign material in their meat and poultry products and more generally providing recommendations for how establishments should craft their complaint handling policies. FSIS states that it developed the document in response to an increase in the number of recalls of meat and poultry products adulterated with foreign materials, many of which occurred after the recalling establishments had received multiple customer complaints. Though the document is intended to address foreign material customer complaints specifically, FSIS notes that establishments can apply the information in the document to other customer complaints of adulterated or misbranded products in commerce. The Draft Guideline marks a significant expansion in FSIS’s formal guidance about complaint handling programs and signals continued Agency focus on foreign material issues.
According to FSIS, the Draft Guideline reflects the Agency’s current thinking and “should be considered useable as of the issuance date.” The document technically “is not regulatory” (i.e., is not binding), and establishments may choose to adopt different procedures than those outlined in the Draft Guideline, although in practice FSIS will typically expect the establishment to justify alternative practices. Comments are due by May 10, 2019 and should be submitted to Docket Number FSIS-2018-0034.
This blog post first summarizes FSIS’s statements in the Draft Guideline on foreign material control generally, followed by the Agency’s guidance on complaint handling.