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.
9 CFR 416.2(c): Light
Light is good. Without light, we cannot watch our children grow up, see flowers, ride a bicycle, or read this article. Historically, the federal government agrees. Regulations of the Bureau of Animal Industry, the first federal meat inspection agency, required that there “shall be abundant light…to ensure sanitary condition” [9 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) 308.3(b)]. That standard remained in effect until October 20, 1999, when FSIS issued the Sanitation Requirements for Official Meat and Poultry Establishments Final Rule promulgating the current Sanitation Performance Standard for light.
The 9 CFR 416.2(c) states:
Lighting of good quality and sufficient intensity to ensure that sanitary conditions are maintained and that product is not adulterated must be provided in areas where food is processed, handled, stored, or examined; where equipment and utensils are cleaned; and in hand-washing areas, dressing and locker rooms, and toilets.
9 CFR 416.2(c) is an improvement over 9 CFR 308.3(b) because it limits the lighting requirement to specific locations. The requirement “lighting of good quality and sufficient intensity” is more descriptive than “abundant light.” But what does “good quality and sufficient intensity” look like?
- Lighting is of “good quality” if the lighting faithfully reveals the color of the object observed in comparison to natural light. The quantitative measure of light quality is the color rendering index (CRI). The CRI of natural light is 100, the best possible light for observing color. Light sources with a CRI of 85 to 90 are considered good at color rendering. Incandescent and halogen light bulbs have a CRI close to 100.
- Lighting is of “sufficient intensity” if the amount of light emitted reveals the object observed. The quantitative measure of light quality is the lumen. One lumen equals one footcandle (SAE unit) or 10.8 lux (metric unit). 9 CFR 307.2(m)(2) requires a “minimum of 50 footcandle (538.2 lux) of shadow-free lighting at the inspection surfaces of the head, viscera, and carcass” to perform livestock post mortem inspection. Anything less is not of “sufficient intensity.”
Ensuring “that sanitary conditions are maintained, and that product is not adulterated” is more descriptive than “ensure sanitary condition.” Previous articles describe criteria of identifying insanitary conditions and adulterated product.
Consider these scenarios.
- Packaging material is stored in a dry storage warehouse with 25 footcandle of mercury vapor lighting that emits a blue-green light. 9 CFR 416.2(c) does not apply. The dry storage warehouse is not an area “where food is processed, handled, stored, or examined; where equipment and utensils are cleaned;” nor a handwashing area, dressing or locker room, or toilet.
- Lighting at the surface of the poultry evisceration machine is 35 footcandle. Artificial lighting installed approximates natural light. Incidental contamination is readily identified and removed. Sanitary conditions are maintained, and the product is not adulterated. 9 CFR 416.2(c) compliance exists because the light quality prevents differentiating wholesome from unwholesome meat.
- Literature for the new fluorescent light bulbs advertise a lumen value of 1000, a color rendering index of 70, and emit a light blue light. Fresh meat appears magenta-like. 9 CFR 416.2(c) noncompliance exists.
If FSIS issues a noncompliance record alleging 9 CFR 416.2(c) noncompliance accurately describing lighting that does not faithfully reveal the color of the object observed in comparison to natural light or does not fully reveal the object observed in an area where food is processed, handled, stored, or examined; where equipment and utensils are cleaned; or handwashing areas, dressing and locker rooms, and toilets; the noncompliance record is valid. Fix the problem.
If the noncompliance record does not describe noncompliance, appeal the noncompliance. Shine light on why the noncompliance record fails to describe noncompliance. Describe why lighting conditions meet performance standards. Light quality and intensity data are available from lighting manufacturers. This information is neither proof of compliance nor noncompliance.
As always, if you have a question, please use the Contact Us link and ask.
Did you miss Dr. Fisher’s previous posts?
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