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.
I am a retired soldier and know the risks associated with water in third-world countries and how to protect myself. When I recently traveled to Bolivia, I took precautions yet still contracted Shigella dysenteriae. The illness was likely from consuming fresh fruit from a vendor who had washed with water contaminated with human feces. You cannot take the safety of water for granted. 9 CFR 416.2(g) shares that sentiment.
9 CFR 416.2(g)(1) is the standard for water flowing from the faucet. In the United States, it’s easy to achieve compliance and obtain documentation.
9 CFR 416.2(g) begins:
(1) A supply of running water that complies with the National Primary Drinking Water regulations […] If an establishment uses a municipal water supply, it must make available […] a water report, issued under the authority of the State or local health agency, certifying […] the potability of the water supply. If an establishment uses a private well for its water supply, it must make available […] documentation certifying the potability of the water supply that has been renewed at least semi-annually.
9 CFR 416.2(g)(2) through (4) are standards for reuse of water to prepare product. Any such reuse carries the potential to introduce a food safety hazard into product preparation. Therefore, any such reuse must be considered in the hazard analysis and determined to not result in a food safety hazard reasonably likely to occur. A control (i.e. standard operating procedure, prerequisite program) is necessary to support such a determination.
9 CFR 416.2(g) continues:
(2) Water, ice, and solutions […] used to chill or cook ready-to-eat product may be reused for the same purpose, provided that they are maintained free of pathogenic organisms and fecal coliform organisms and that other physical, chemical, and microbiological contamination have been reduced to prevent adulteration of product.
(3) Water, ice, and solutions used to chill or wash raw product may be reused for the same purpose provided that measures are taken to reduce physical, chemical, and microbiological contamination so as to prevent contamination or adulteration of product. Reuse that which has come into contact with raw product may not be used on ready-to-eat product.
(4) Reconditioned water that has never contained human waste and that has been treated by an onsite advanced wastewater treatment facility may be used on raw product, except in product formulation, and throughout the facility in edible and inedible production areas, provided that measures are taken to ensure that this water meets [9 CFR 416.2(g)(1)]. Product, facilities, equipment, and utensils coming in contact with this water must undergo a separate final rinse with non-reconditioned water that meets [9 CFR 416.2(g)(1)].
9 CFR 416.2(g)(5) and (6) are standards for reuse of water to maintain sanitation. Any such reuse carries the potential to create an insanitary condition whereby product may be contaminated with filth. Therefore, any such reuse to clean direct food contact surfaces should be addressed in the Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure.
9 CFR 416.2(g) ends with:
(5) Any water that has never contained human waste and that is free of pathogenic organisms may be used in edible and inedible product areas, provided it does not contact edible product.
(6) Water that does not meet [9 CFR 416.2(g)(1) through (g)(5)] may not be used in areas where edible product is handled or prepared or in any manner that would allow it to adulterate edible product or create insanitary conditions.
Water & Public Health
Water supplies are critical infrastructure. The loss of access to clean, safe water is a public health emergency. For instance, ask inhabitants of any United States city or town left without clean, safe water following a flood or hurricane. FSIS considers proof of clean, safe water critical to the preparation of not adulterated product. FSIS considers absence of such proof as synonymous with an insanitary condition whereby product may be contaminated with filth. Don’t take your water supply for granted. Though the risk may be small, the consequences can be significant.
As always, if you have a question, please use the Contact Us link and ask.
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YOUR FUND AT WORK
Services provided by FTCLDF go beyond legal representation for members in court cases.
Educational and policy work also provide an avenue for FTCLDF to build grassroots activism to create the most favorable regulatory climate possible. In addition to advising on bill language, FTCLDF supports favorable legislation via action alerts and social media outreach.