U.S – The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has published guidelines for producing meat and poultry products that are ready-to-eat (RTE), shelf-stable, fermented, salt-cured, and dried without using cooking as the major lethal process.

The guideline answers frequently asked concerns about the risks to food safety connected to the items covered by it and the crucial measures in each procedure to assure safety.

FSIS has several documents that address the safe production of ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry products.

However, based on questions received, FSIS determined that the current documents do not adequately address the specific considerations related to supporting the lethality and shelf-stability of RTE shelf-stable fermented, salt-cured, and dried meat and poultry products.

The guideline also includes lessons learned from two salmonella outbreaks in 2021 associated with ready-to-eat fermented, dried, and salt-cured meat Italian-style meat products.

It replaces and builds upon information that was previously included in other guidance documents that provided advice on how to safely produce RTE fermented meat and poultry products.

FSIS defines RTE meat or poultry product as one that is in a form that is edible without additional preparation to achieve food safety and may receive additional preparation for palatability or aesthetic, epicurean, gastronomic, or culinary purposes.

Shelf-stable for the purposes of meat and poultry products is defined as the condition achieved when meat and poultry products can be stored under ambient temperature and humidity conditions; if the package integrity is maintained during storage, shipping, and display at retail and in the home; and the product will not spoil or become unsafe throughout the manufacturer’s specified shelf-life.

All establishments can profit from the information presented, even though the guideline focuses on the requirements of small and very small establishments in support of the Small Business Administration’s initiative to provide small businesses with compliance assistance under the Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA).

Under the regulations, meat and poultry establishments may choose to implement different procedures than those outlined in this guideline, but they would need to validate and support how those procedures are effective.

FSIS is looking for feedback from the public on the recommendation and urges businesses that make the covered products to consider it. Although the advice document contains the agency’s current recommendations, the agency may take comments into account and make adjustments.

It will accept public comments on the recommendation for a 60-day period from publication, which culminates on July 5, 2023. The organization will offer two webinars on May 15 and 17, 2023 to give a summary of the recommendations and give attendees a chance to ask questions.

The webinars don’t require registration in order to participate. For those who can’t attend, recordings of both webinars as well as the presentation slides will be made available on the FSIS website.

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