The guidelines provide recommendations on how to minimize each pathogen’s specific risk. The guidelines are an update of the 2015 FSIS guideline and are focused specifically on small establishments; they provide basic recommendations for pre-harvest (poultry farming) and post-harvest (poultry processing) practices to minimize the risk of pathogens.
Darin Detwiler, director of the Master of Science in the Regulatory Affairs of Food and Food Industries program at Northeastern University College of Professional Studies, noted that a key takeaway from the new guidance is that FSIS has removed the word “compliance” from them, so the guidelines do not constitute regulatory requirements. Therefore, the information offered is provided as guidance to assist poultry slaughter and processing establishments and is not legally binding from a regulatory perspective.
“Other takeaways include specific information about antimicrobial concerns that have long served as a topic of contention between the federal regulations and consumer groups,” he tells Food Quality & Safety.
Though the guidelines specifically state that “all poultry establishments may apply the recommendations,” it is important to note the transparency in that the preface also notes that it is “focused on 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.”
“So, we have federal guidelines now that state that they are not really regulatory requirements, that they are not legally binding, and that they don’t apply to the largest of poultry establishments,” Detwiler says.
However, these guidelines allow FSIS to update small poultry farms with the newest science that most medium and large poultry houses already know. The guidelines will continue to be updated as new science, products, and practices are introduced.