We are pleased that Dr. Michael Fisher has joined the FTCLDF website as a regular contributor. Dr. Fisher is a retired United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) veterinarian, bringing decades of experience enforcing FSIS regulations during the slaughter and processing of animals for which the USDA provides inspection services. Dr. Fisher is thrilled to bring you his expertise and guidance to help you navigate regulatory compliance. His goal is for small, USDA-inspected meat processors to succeed and to understand how to best maintain compliance and reduce regulatory issues.
An undeniable truth: someone will disappoint you at some point in your life. An undeniable falsehood: 9 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 416.2(a) prohibits insects and rodents within an official establishment.
9 CFR 416.2(a)
As written, §416.2(a) applies to three objects:
(1) grounds about the establishment,
(2) a pest management program, and
(3) pest control substances.
According to §416.2(a):
“ The grounds about an establishment must be maintained to prevent conditions that could lead to insanitary conditions, adulteration of product, or interfere with inspection by FSIS program employees.  Establishments must have in place a pest management program to prevent the harborage and breeding of pests on the grounds and within establishment facilities.  Pest control substances used must be safe and effective under the conditions of use and not be applied or stored in a manner that will result in the adulteration of product or the creation of insanitary conditions.”
Performance Standard: Grounds
The performance standard for grounds about the establishment is “maintained to prevent conditions that could lead to insanitary conditions, adulteration of product, or interfere with inspection by FSIS program employees.” There can be filth on the grounds about the establishment, but the exposed product is not prepared, packed, or held on the grounds about the establishment. Conditions on the grounds about the establishment can be untidy, even chaotic, and not lead to insanitary conditions or adulteration of product. Inspection occurs indoors. It is difficult to envision a condition on the grounds about the establishment that interferes with inspection by FSIS program employees.
Performance Standard: Pest Management Program
The performance standard for a pest management program is to have one in place “to prevent harborage and breeding of pests on the grounds and within establishment facilities.” The “have in place” standard is met if the establishment has in place a pest control program with a documented process control history of preventing harborage and breeding. The phrase “harborage and breeding” describes locations where pests hide, shelter and reproduce, not the simple presence of pests. Neither the Federal Meat Inspection Act, nor the Poultry Products Inspection Act, nor Code of Federal Regulations, prohibit the presence of pests inside establishment facilities.
Performance Standard: Pest Control Substances
The performance standard for pest control substances is that they must be “safe and effective under the conditions of use” and must not be “applied or stored in a manner that will result in the adulteration of product or the creation of insanitary conditions.” The phrase “safe and effective under the conditions of use” means that the chemical is approved by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in a food plant and is applied in accordance with label instructions. Preventing adulteration and insanitary conditions is easy. Don’t apply or store pest control substances where the product is prepared, packed, or stored.
Compliance with 9 CFR 416.2(a) is not difficult. An establishment can act as pest control provider, but a licensed, professional, pest control contractor is a valuable asset. Contractors provide written programs, routine service, service reports, and a trained eye to identify potential problems. Contractors eliminate the need to apply and store pest control substances. Employing a contractor does not relieve the establishment of responsibility. The establishment must oversee the contractor and act on contractor recommendations.
If FSIS issues you a noncompliance record alleging §416.2(a) noncompliance and you meet the performance standards described, appeal the noncompliance. If the noncompliance record narrative describes any evidence of pests within the building, no matter how irrelevant, don’t be surprised when FSIS denies your appeal. In the opinion of FSIS inspection, it is an undeniable truth that evidence of pests within the building is synonymous with insanitary conditions and the adulteration of product. Neither the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, nor §416.2(a) support that opinion. An undeniable truth.
As always, if you have a question, please use the Contact Us link and ask.
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Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
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