Per the new guidelines, FSIS will be advising foodmakers to begin investigating customer complaints immediately upon receiving them, and to notify the agency within 24 hours if contaminated products are in the marketplace, according to Carmen Rottenberg, administrator of the FSIS.
“Taking very prompt action is what’s really critical to the agency,” Rottenberg said.
The updated guidelines are intended to ensure that food processing firms meet pre-existing regulatory requirements, she said.
This year alone, major food companies have issued no fewer than 25 recalls involving millions of pounds of chicken nuggets, calzones, sausages, and other utterly delectable foodstuffs that harbored potentially dangerous bacteria or extraneous materials, according to the FSIS.
Consumer watchdog groups say an ever-increasing reliance on automation in meat processing plants has led to more machine parts breaking off and contaminating food. Meat industry officials say producers often avoid recalling food until they investigate whether consumer complaints about extraneous materials are legit.
The updated guidelines will provide recommendations to foodmakers on how to investigate and process complaints, as well as how to apply information from them to subsequent reports of contaminated products, according to Rottenberg.