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(d): Ventilation
Seasons change. NFL rules change. My hair color changed! Change is often for the better, but sometimes change goes awry. This happened October 20, 1999 when FSIS issued the Sanitation Requirements for Official Meat and Poultry Establishments final rule. The new regulations promulgated in the final rule basically append, “to the extent necessary to prevent adulteration of product and the creation of insanitary conditions” to preexisting language. 9 CFR 416.2(d) is no exception.
The 9 CFR 416.2(d) states:
Ventilation adequate to control odors, vapors, and condensation to the extent necessary to prevent adulteration of product and the creation of insanitary conditions must be provided.
This is the preexisting language that was removed:
- 9 CFR 308.3(b): “Sufficient ventilation[…]to ensure sanitary condition.”
- 9 CFR 308.8(b): “Sufficiently free of[…]vapors to prevent dripping[…]”
- 9 CFR 381.52(c): “[…]adequately ventilated to eliminate[…]odors and minimize[…]condensation.”
Ventilation is neither the cause nor the solution to odors, vapors, and condensation. You prevent odors with structural containment and exhaust to the exterior, not by relocating odors elsewhere through air movement. You prevent vapors and condensation with refrigeration systems that control atmospheric pressure and temperature within a space, not increased air movement within the space. True, move enough air through an open space, and you can reduce or eliminate odors, vapors, and condensation, but this ignores the underlying problem, brings conditions outside the space inside the space, and potentially creates additional sanitation problems.
Odors, vapors, and condensation are the result of structural deficiencies in the facility, not ventilation. In 1906, refrigeration systems were not commonplace in meat processing establishments. The preexisting language reflects this fact. Today, refrigeration systems are essential infrastructure in meat and poultry processing establishments. When FSIS replaced 9 CFR 308.3(b) with 9 CFR 416.2(d), it simply adopted the preexisting, outdated language and failed to consider technological change requiring regulatory change.
Consider these scenarios:
1. Odors from the rendering department permeate the slaughter department. Fix the broken door between the rendering and slaughter departments.
2. Year round, condensation forms above the portal where hot carcasses enter the carcass cooler. Decrease production rate to accommodate refrigeration capacity or increase refrigeration capacity to accommodate the demand.
3. Seasonally, when weather is hot and humid, condensation forms above the portal where hot carcasses enter the carcass cooler. No increase in refrigeration capacity can overcome some atmospheric conditions. Monitor the problem area and physically remove condensation as it forms.
4. During loading operations doors remain open, refrigeration equipment runs continuously, and condensation forms in the product holding cooler. Open and close the doors as needed, install air curtains, or cycle the refrigeration units off to minimize entry of warm, moist air into the cooler.
5. Condensation forms on the interior of the cooler door casing. The door seal is dysfunctional. Replace the door seal.
If FSIS issues a noncompliance record alleging 9 CFR 416.2(d) noncompliance accurately describing the adulterated product and the creation of insanitary conditions due to odors, vapors, or condensation, find and fix the structural deficiency causing the problem or adapt operations to control the problem. If the noncompliance record describes odors, vapors, or condensation and does not describe adulteration of product and the creation of insanitary conditions, appeal the noncompliance record. Be persistent.
Don’t be surprised if FSIS denies your appeal. 9 CFR 416.2(d) does not prohibit odors, vapors, and condensation, but many FSIS inspection personnel interpret any odors, vapors, or condensation as synonymous with insanitary conditions and the adulteration of product.
As always, if you have a question, please use the Contact Us link and ask.
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