D’Artagnan LLC, a Union, NJ-based food manufacturer, has filed a petition with USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) asking the agency to amend regulations for voluntary inspection for exotic meats to include allowance for imported products, such as imported venison.
“On the spirit of it, there are some antiquated ways of doing things today that we should catch up with,” Ariane Daguin, D’Artagnan’s CEO, tells Food Quality & Safety. “Venison is a red meat, bison is a red meat, and to continue to make them voluntary is deceiving because they have the same properties and specification of red meat from beef. Eventually, what we would like is to get to a point where [the meats are] treated the same way.”
The company’s trimmings for venison are sourced in New Zealand and D’Artagnan is looking to fix the challenge its venison ground product experiences with inspection in 27 states that are not federally inspected. Current federal rules stipulate that products sourced from imported trim are considered to be non-amenable species and are, therefore, not eligible to be voluntarily inspected.
“It’s a difficult situation because we are in a country where laws are different in every state,” Daguin says. “We are trying to create a uniform way of treating venison after the proper entry and get approval agreeable for all the states. This is important to us and should go in the right direction because this particular meat is so high in protein, low in fat, good tasting, and it’s good for you. It’s a nice alternative to red meat.”
The petition notes that present regulations require a product from an imported source be put into commerce without the benefit of USDA’s guidance, but since voluntary inspection is funded by fees paid by the requesting company, there is no financial burden to the USDA.