Ga Dept of Agriculture


Meat Inspection Quarterly Newsletter Volume 3

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Volume 3 | February 2, 2018
The Commissioner's Corner
Happy New Year (belated) to you all. We’ve dodged ice, snow and flu in recent days. I hope that you and your family members are healthy and safe as we approach February. If you’ve experienced sickness already, I surely hope that “Groundhog Day” does not strike again for you this week.
Our strategic theme for the coming year is “Agriculture Makes Life Better.” That is what you do every day, for every Georgian. The agriculture industry makes life better. The Department of Agriculture family makes life better. Yours....ours is a noble calling.

We seek to advance seven key principles over the next five years.

1. Georgia must commit to a competitive career path for employees of the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

2. Georgia has a commanding presence as the number one state in America in which to do business. Georgia must also commit to being the number one state in America were local food systems flourish.

3. Georgia must help citizens start a business and stay in business through compliance by ensuring an "educate as we regulate" climate.

4. Georgia must be the best prepared state in the nation for natural disaster and emergency management responses affecting agriculture.

5. Georgia animals must be healthy and cared for properly.

6. Georgia must commit to enhancing domestic and international marketing strategies for agriculture, food and forest products.

7. Georgia’s youth must view agriculture, forestry, food processing and related endeavors as fields worthy of study and employment.

Each principle somehow touches the meat industry and inspection program.  I have some specific goals and ideas about how to move forward, but I need your help. What are your ideas? How can we make Georgia Grown stronger? How can we recruit more young people? What regulations seem silly or outdated to you? How can we strengthen the meat inspection program? How can we build the meat processing industry in Georgia?

Georgians want us to put a professional, competent team in the field every day.  That’s why the career principle is number one.  I pledge to be aggressive this session and in future years to make sure we make progress together.

Until next time … thank you for what you do each day.
Commissioner Black
A Word from the Director
This is the second article in a series, concerning actions that the Georgia Meat Inspection Section (GMIS) might take in response to noncompliances observed.  The first article in this series was about noncompliance records (NRs) and the establishment’s right to respectfully appeal any decision that GMIS makes.  
If you missed the first article in this series, I encourage you to revisit Volume 2 of our Meat Inspection News, as the two articles are complementary of one another.

Regulatory Control Actions

Definition: An immediate action taken by GMIS Inspection staff to address specific issues observed while conducting his or her inspection duties.  Actions include the use of a GMIS or USDA tag to retain product or reject equipment or facilities, slowing or stopping of slaughter or production lines, or refusal to allow the processing of specifically identified product.  

GMIS Responsibilities: When GMIS inspection staff observe potentially serious and/or egregious noncompliant situations that have resulted, or could result, in the adulteration or misbranding of product, or inhumane treatment of animals, the staff member is required to take a “regulatory control action”.  This simply means that the GMIS staff member will take an immediate action to control the product or process, and prevent the movement of the product and/or use of the equipment or facility until the establishment can take corrective actions. 

GMIS may take a regulatory control action for the following reasons:
1. Insanitary conditions – (e.g. The inspector observes product residue on a food contact surface during a pre-operational inspection, and places a GMIS or USDA Reject tag on the equipment until the establishment can take corrective actions.)

2. Insanitary practices – (e.g. The inspector observes numerous adulterated carcasses during postmortem inspection and stops the slaughter line until the establishment can take corrective actions.)

3. Product adulteration – (e.g. The inspector observes fecal contamination on a carcass in the cooler, and places a GMIS or USDA Retain tag on the carcass until the establishment can take corrective actions.)

4. Product misbranding – (e.g. The inspector observes that a product contains an allergen that is not identified on the product label, and places a GMIS or USDA Retain tag on the product until the establishment can take corrective actions.)

5. Conditions that preclude GMIS from determining whether or not product is adulterated or misbranded – (e.g. The inspector observes that all the lights in a carcass cooler are out, and places a GMIS or USDA Retain tag on the cooler door until the establishment can restore visibility in the cooler.) 

6. Inhumane handling or slaughtering of livestock – (e.g. The inspector observes that an establishment has failed to properly stun an animal (according to regulatory requirements), and places a GMIS Reject tag on the knock box until the establishment can provide the GMIS or USDA Atlanta Office with corrective actions.  In this example, no slaughter may occur until approval is received from the GMIS or USDA Atlanta Office.) 

7. Inadequate HACCP Plan – (e.g. The inspector observes that the establishment is producing a product without a HACCP plan, tags the resulting product, and does not allow continued production of that product until the establishment has an adequate HACCP plan for the product.) 

When a GMIS staff member has taken a “regulatory control action”, he or she must immediately notify the establishment orally or in writing of the action and the reason why the action was taken.  Written notification of the “regulatory control action” will be made on a NR for each situation, including tag numbers of any Reject/Retain tags used.

Establishment Responsibilities:  When a “regulatory control action” is taken by GMIS inspection staff, the establishment has three (3) options:

Option 1: Provide support that you are in full regulatory compliance.
Option 2:  Take appropriate corrective actions.
Option 3:  Respectfully appeal the action.

As with any action taken by a GMIS staff member, the establishment has the right to respectfully appeal the “regulatory control action” by communicating with the GMIS staff member’s immediate supervisor verbally or in writing.  As I discussed in the last article on NRs, a written appeal is preferred to ensure nothing is lost in translation and as a record of the appeal.  Please refer to my previous article for more details on your right to appeal.

In case you didn’t already know, please be aware that once a GMIS staff member has taken a “regulatory control action” the action can only be removed or undone by a GMIS staff member. 

For example, if an inspector uses a Reject/Retain tag, the tagged product, equipment, or facilities cannot be moved or used until corrective actions have been taken (or an appeal has been granted) and GMIS removes the tag.  The Reject/Retain tag is an accountable item and, as such, must be retrieved by GMIS.  Failure to respect and/or protect the integrity of the Reject/Retain tag, resulting in the terms of the tag being violated, may result in an immediate withholding action or suspension of the establishment’s license – as stated in Georgia Administrative Code (GAC) 40-10-5-.03 (5) and Title 9 Code of Federal Regulations (9 CFR) 500.3 (a)(5). 

I strongly recommend that all establishment managers and/or owners remind your employees on a regular basis of the importance of complying with the terms of a GMIS or USDA Reject/Retain tag, as this is a very preventable pitfall to avoid.  Remember, if you don’t agree with a “regulatory control action” that GMIS has taken, we welcome your appeal.

In our next newsletter, I will continue with part 3 of this series, where I will dive into Notices of Intended Enforcement (NOIEs), Withholding Actions, and Suspension.

Adam Buuck, MPH, CPH
GMIS Director

I adapted this second article from the following sources: 
1. FSIS Directive 5000.1, Revision 5 – Verifiying an Establishment’s Food Safety System
2. GAC 40-10-5 – Meat and Poultry Inspection Rules of Practice

3. 9 CFR 500 - Rules of Practice
  “Rules of Practice” Module from USDA’s Inspection Methods course, which is mandatory for all GMIS staff
5. 9 CFR 306.5 – Appeals


Message to Establishment Owners from Veterinarian Brenda H. Manley, DVM, GMIS Statewide Veterinary Supervisor,
Animal Industry,
Georgia Department of Agriculture
January 2018
First of all, I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself to those of you I haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet.  I’m Dr. Brenda Manley, the newly promoted Statewide Veterinary Supervisor for GMIS.
Secondly, I encourage you, the establishment owner and/or manager to call on me or one of the other veterinarians on our team, to seek answers to any animal health or veterinary related issues involving the animals you slaughter and/or process at your establishment.  Our Veterinarians, Dr. Hugh Bassham, Dr. Karen Poteete and I, have a vested interest with you in the health of the animals you process, in that we are charged with ensuring a safe, healthy and wholesome product for your consumers.  Our primary role as Meat Inspection Veterinarians is to identify diseased animals and help the inspector make the most sound decision possible concerning the disposition of a carcass, whether it be trim and pass, pass with restrictions, or condemnation.
While our primary interest is in identifying those animals affected by a Disease of Food Safety, a Foreign Animal Disease or a Reportable Disease, we are also concerned with routine diseases such as pneumonia and arthritis, as they too may be systemic diseases which could cause sickness in humans and, therefore, should not be passed for human consumption.  Another role of the Veterinarian is the administration of the GMIS Humane Handling Program, and as such you will routinely see one of us in your establishment  observing, and  thus assuring, that each animal is humanely housed, handled and slaughtered while there.
In summary, the Veterinarians of Meat Inspection look forward to working with you and your establishment, as you continue to produce safe, healthy and wholesome product for your consumers. And remember; please do not hesitate to call us for any veterinary related questions you may have!

Dr. Brenda Manley, GMIS Statewide Veterinary Supervisor
Contact info: (706)340-3320
Dr. Hugh Bassham, GMIS South Public Health Veterinarian
Contact Info: (229)443-0302-
Dr. Karen Poteete, GMIS North Public Health Veterinarian
Contact Info: (470) 445-0814 –
Upcoming Holidays

Washington's Birthday - February 19, 2018
is a Federal holiday.
Only federal inspected establishments that operate will be charged
for inspection services provided.

State Holiday- April 23, 2018
Only state inspected establishments that operate will be charged
for inspection services provided. 

Memorial Day - Monday, May 28, 2018
is a State and Federal holiday.
All establishments that operate will be charged for inspection services provided. 
Georgia Meat Inspection Rules 
FSIS Regulations
Records To Be Kept by Official Establishments and Retail Stores That Grind Raw Beef Products

Instructions were recently reissued to inspection personnel on how to verify whether official establishments are maintaining required records concerning suppliers and source materials for raw beef ground at an establishment.

This rule requires official establishments and retail stores that grind raw beef for sale
in commerce to maintain specific information about raw ground beef they produce.

The new regulations in 9 CFR 320.1(b)(4) require official establishments and retail stores to keep the following information when they grind raw beef:

1. The establishment numbers of the establishments supplying the materials used to prepare each lot of raw ground beef product;
2. All supplier lot numbers and production dates;
3. The names of the supplied materials, including beef components and any materials carried over from one production lot to the next;
4. The date and time each lot of raw ground beef product is produced, and
5. The date and time when grinding equipment and other related food-contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized.

1. A ground beef lot is defined, for the purpose of raw ground beef recordkeeping, as the amount of ground beef produced during particular dates and times, following clean up and until the next clean up.
2. Records are required to be maintained for 1 year at the location where the raw beef was ground.
3. There are certain circumstances when an establishment is not required to maintain grinding records. If an establishment either processes all ground beef product into Ready-to-Eat (RTE) product or moves all ground beef product to another official federally-inspected establishment for further processing into RTE product, IPP are not to verify whether establishments meet these new recordkeeping requirements.

The rule can be viewed by clicking here- Records To Be Kept by Official Establishments and Retail Stores That Grind Raw Beef Products
We are available to provide outreach on most regulatory requirements.  Just contact us with your questions and we’ll get you in touch with someone who can provide you with the right answers. 

If we can’t answer your questions over the phone, we’ll send out a representative to review your specific situation and documentation and provide guidance on regulatory compliance. 

Please direct your feedback to:

GMIS Atlanta Office
Georgia Department of Agriculture
Meat Inspection Section, Room 108
19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Atlanta, Georgia  30334
(404) 656-3673


USDA Small Plant Help Desk
Phone:  1-877-374-7435
The Meat Inspection newsletter is produced quarterly by the Meat Inspection Division in an effort to inform all Georgia meat inspection facilities of local, state and national industry updates. The newsletter should serve as an educational update crossing locational barriers throughout the state of Georgia. Thank you to all who contribute and read the newsletter each quarter.
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Copyright © *|2017|* *|Georgia Department of Agriculture|*, All rights reserved.
*|Meat Inspection Divison|*
Volume 2017, Issue 1

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