FSIS Rule Would Make Retail Lists Available During Recalls

WASHINGTON -- The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has proposed a rule that would make public the lists of retail outlets that have received products that have subsequently been recalled.

"We believe that publishing a list of retail establishments that have received products subject to recall will help consumers more easily determine if they purchased recalled product," said Richard Raymond, USDA's under secretary for food safety "FSIS currently posts detailed information about recalled products, including pictures when possible, on its Web site to help consumers identify products subject to recall."

In 2005, FSIS said there were 53 recalls involving meat and poultry products compared with 113 in 2002. When a recall is conducted, FSIS posts a recall press release on its Web site to help consumers identify the product. The agency also distributes the press release to national wire services and newspapers, television and radio stations in those states where the product has been distributed as well as electronically to mailing lists maintained by FSIS. Federal, state and local health and agricultural officials are also alerted to the fact that a recall is taking place.

The recall release includes the name of the recalling establishment, the reason for the recall, a description of the food being recalled, any identifying codes, the recall classification and the appropriate contact persons for FSIS and the company involved.

During the recall process, FSIS receives lists of consignees from the recalling firm. FSIS contacts consignees at all levels of distribution to ensure that proper notification is taking place and that products subject to recall are being removed from commerce and properly disposed of or returned to the recalling firm.

If a product has been distributed to the retail level, under the proposed rule, FSIS will post a complete list of retail outlets on its Web site once that list has been verified for accuracy.

Beginning in 2002, FSIS entered into a series of Memoranda of Understanding to allow states to participate in the recall verification process. While consignee identities and distribution lists have in the past been considered confidential business information, FSIS has concluded that it has the authority to release the names of retail consignees of recalled meat and poultry products and that doing so will enhance the effectiveness of the recall process.

FSIS is seeking public comments on this proposed rule, which must be received on or before May 5, 2006. Comments can be sent to Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 300 12th Street, S.W., Room 102 Cotton Annex, Washington, D.C. 20250; or through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at http://www.regulations.gov.
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