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Petitions for large and small changes are piling up at Food Safety and Inspection Service

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For whatever good it will do, you have the right to petition the federal government. However, the industry, consumers, and even foreign governments take one petition process very seriously. It’s the petition for rulemaking at USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). It takes in written requests to issue, amend or repeal regulations administered by FSIS.

Petitions to FSIS cover a wide range, from significant sweeping reforms to small specific changes that involve only a few stakeholders. Among those pending at this time that call for sweeping reforms are:

  • Jan. 19, 2020, a petition submitted on behalf of Rick Schiller, Steven Tomes, the Porter Family, Food & Water Watch, Consumer Federation of Ameican, and Consumer Reports by food safety attorney Bill Marler. The petitioners request FSIS issue an interpretive rule declaring specific Salmonella serotypes as contaminants in meat and poultry products.
  • Jan. 25, 2021, a petition from the Center for Science in the Public Interest that requests FSIS to initiate rulemaking to 1.) established enforceable finished products standards for Salmonella types with the most significant public health concern and Campylobacter and, 2) to require poultry establishments to identify and control food safety risks within their supply chain

Former USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Mindy Brashears left the government on Jan. 20, 2021, before the CSPI petition filing and without addressing the Marler petition. 

The Salmonella serotypes the Marler petition wants to ban from meat and poultry are Salmonella Agona, Anatum, Berta, Blockley, Braenderup, Derby, Dublin, Enteritidis, Hadar, Heidelberg, I 4,[5],12: I :-, Infantis, Javiana, Litchfield, Mbandaka, Mississippi, Montevideo, Muenchen, Newport, Oranienburg, Panama, Poona, Reading, Saintpaul, Sandiego, Schwarzengrund, Senftenberg, and Stanley,

“Salmonella is the leading bacterial cause of foodborne illness in the United States, resulting in an estimated 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations, 420 deaths, and 130 outbreaks each year,” Marler said in a letter to Brashears.

Marler’s and CSPI’s petitions are the latest attempts by food safety and consumer groups to get FSIS to manage more of its pathogens problems.

The Marler and CSPI petitions may be getting a second look from Sandra Eskin, who became USDA’s Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safely on March 17. The former food safety project director for The Pew Charitable Trusts, Eskin, inherited all the unanswered petitions at FSIS.

“Receipt Acknowledged” petitions at FSIS may not have received any real attention since their filing.  Here, going back three years, is what else is in the hopper, now vying for Eskin’s attention.  Most of these have gone through a comment period.


Petition Submitted by D’Artagnan LLC


Petition Submitted by Culver Duck Farms, Inc.


Petition to Adopt a Labeling Approach for Cell-Based Meat and Poultry Products


Petition for Interpretive Rule Related to Certain Salmonella Serotypes


Petition for Changes to The National Residue Program


Petition to Repeal the Definition of “Spring Lamb” in 9 CFR 317.8(b)(4).


Petition to Exercise Enforcement Discretion to Allow Surplus Broiler Eggs to be Sent to Egg Breakers 


Petition to Amend Current Port-of-Entry (POE) Definition and Policies Regarding Loose Tins


Petition Regarding the Requirement for Salvaging Transportation Damage


Petition to Limit the Definition of Beef to Traditional Sources 

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