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AMI Urges AMS Urge To Use Rulemaking Process In Developing Equipment Certification Standards

Monday, August 14, 2000
 

Washington, DC - The Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) should follow standard rulemaking procedures in developing and refining its voluntary equipment certification program, the American Meat Institute (AMI) said in comments submitted to the agency August 4.

The voluntary equipment certification program is being developed by AMS to replace the mandatory approval program that was eliminated in 1997 as part of USDA Food Safety and Inspection efforts to streamline regulations. The industry relied upon the previously mandatory certification program to ensure that equipment met generally recognized industry standards for food safety and performance and AMI had urged AMS to develop a fee-for-service, voluntary program to replace it. In 1999, Congress approved a measure directing AMS to develop just such a program.

Although AMS has written a proposed rule and published it for open comment, future changes or new standards under the program would simply be adopted without public comment. “Utilizing the notice and comment process to incorporate standards changes will ensure that all interested parties, large and small, will be able to offer their views on issues that may vitally affect their businesses,” AMI’s Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs Mark Dopp said.

The Institute cautioned, also, that AMS needs to amend the draft program to remove references to worker safety. “The certification program is intended to be a hygiene program, not a worker safety standard,” Dopp said. “Inclusion of the ISO/EN worker safety reference unnecessarily expands the scope of the rule beyond the intend of Congress.”

Finally, AMI urged AMS to clarify the circumstances under which equipment will need to be recertified. The proposed rule provides that “any” design/fabrication changes to the equipment must be recertified by the agency. In the Institute’s view, the rule should be amended so that recertification is required only if the design is changed significantly in a manner that would affect the hygiene standards.

AMI represents the interests of packers and processors of beef, pork, lamb, veal and turkey products and their suppliers throughout North America. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute provides legislative, regulatory and public relations services, conducts scientific and economic research, offers marketing and technical assistance and sponsors education programs.


For more information contact:
Janet Riley
Vice President, Public Affairs
703-841-2400
jriley@meatinstitute.org

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