USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) this week issued a notice announcing the availability of an updated draft guidance document to assist establishments in appropriately validating their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems. FSIS will hold a public meeting on June 25 to review the changes to the guidance and to take comments.  FSIS will continue to accept written comments until July 25 before issuing its final guidance and then the agency will issue a Federal Register notice announcing the final guidance document.

FSIS will begin verifying that establishments comply with all validation requirements in a phased-in approach by establishment size. FSIS plans to delay enforcement of the second element of validation (initial in-plant validation) for approximately six months from the date the final guidance is posted for large establishments, and for nine months for small and very small establishments. In the meantime:

  •  FSIS will continue to issue a noncompliance record if an establishment does not have adequate scientific or technical support for its HACCP system;
  • FSIS will continue to issue a notice of intended enforcement action if the agency finds that the establishment’s scientific or technical support is inadequate and the HACCP system is inadequate for any of the reasons cited; and
  • FSIS inspectors will inform establishments during their Food Safety Assessments if the inspector finds that the establishment does not have in-plant validation data.

The Federal Register notice is available here.