Deadline Looms

first_imgThe demand for safe food could soon shut some meat and poultry processors down.That’s not the way it’s supposed to work. But if processors don’t meet a Jan. 27federal deadline, that’s the way it will be.”The deadline is for anyone who sells meat or poultry wholesale,” said EstesReynolds, a food scientist with the University of Georgia Extension Service.”All plants must meet the Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures requirements onJan. 27, 1997,” he said.Georgia’s huge poultry industry isn’t likely to have much trouble meeting the deadline.”They’re in pretty good shape,” Reynolds said. “The smaller processors,though, are not as prepared.”Sanitation SOPs are the first step in putting a new inspection system into place. Thefinal rule on the Pathogen Reduction and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control PointSystems was announced July 25, 1996.The written SOPs must include five parts, including the signature of thehighest-ranking official at the plant. Other items must identify:* What will be done before and during the operation to prevent contamination of themeat or poultry product.* How work surfaces, equipment and utensils will be kept clean.* Who will be responsible for doing these things.* What daily records will be maintained to assure that the SOPs are carried out.Plants with SOPs that fail to include any of those parts will have their inspectionsuspended until the inspector rules that the plant has complied.In short, plants that fail to comply will be out of business, according to the GeorgiaDepartment of Agriculture.Reynolds and other UGA food scientists are leading a pair of December workshops to helpprocessors comply. They will explain the new rules. And they’ll show, step by step, how towrite SOPs that meet them.The workshops will be Dec. 6 in Tifton, Ga., and Dec. 11 in Athens. A $90 fee coversbreaks, lunch and a notebook.To learn more about the workshops, call Reynolds at (706) 542-2574. Or call JaneMertens at (706) 542-6592 about the Athens workshop, or Verna Kea at (912) 386-3416 aboutthe Tifton program.When it’s fully in place, HACCPS will bring the most sweeping food inspection changesin 30 years, Reynolds said.Safety is built into the system to make sure anything that could contaminate oradulterate food doesn’t happen, he said. It won’t rely just on sight, smell and physicalchecks of a sample of food products, but will monitor the safety of the whole process.”Eventually,” Reynolds said, “HACCPS will protect the safety of our foodfrom the farm to the table.”The seafood industry has already put the system into place, he said. The food servicepart of the system, called “Serv-Safe,” is also being carried out in restaurantsand other food service businesses.last_img read more