Ga Dept of Agriculture


Meat Inspection Quarterly Newsletter Volume 7

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Volume 7 | April 2019
The Commissioner's Corner
It’s springtime once again in Georgia.
The azaleas are in full bloom, farmers and gardeners are in the process of planting, and a layer of pollen has descended upon every outdoor surface imaginable. As the natural world seems to spring to life this time of year, the hustle and bustle at our Georgia State Capitol winds down. I’d like to use my column this quarter to recap some of the activity from the Georgia General Assembly.

The 2019 legislative session concluded earlier this month. The House of Representatives and State Senate took up measures to foster investment in new agricultural industries in Georgia with H.B. 213 and H.B. 501. Authored by Rep. John Corbett of Lake Park, H.B. 213 would allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp (cannabis sativa L. plants with a THC content below 0.3%) and give the Department of Agriculture the authority to issues growers licenses and processing permits to qualified agricultural producers. The Department will work to submit rules and regulations to the U.S. Department of Agriculture later this summer. Furthermore, H.B. 501 by Rep. Jesse Petrea and Sen. William Ligon would foster a new commercial shellfish industry in Georgia. The Department of Natural Resources will oversee the harvest process and set the seasons for farming oysters and other shellfish while the Department of Agriculture’s food safety division will continue to promote proper food safety protocols for harvested shellfish.

As is required by our state’s constitution, the legislature also passed a balanced budget for the remaining and upcoming fiscal years. I am proud of the bold measures our General Assembly has taken to support those affected by Hurricane Michael. As you may already know, the legislature convened in a special session last November to provide some immediate relief to our foresters and farmers in southwest Georgia. The Georgia Development Authority was allocated $55 million to provide low-interest loans to farmers directly hit by the hurricane. The S.A.F.E.T.Y. 21 loan program has made the difference between planting a 2019 crop and sitting out the growing season for many farm families, and the legislature appropriated another $20 million to the program this spring as part of the F.Y. 2019 amended budget. While we wait for a response from the federal government, our leadership in the General Assembly and the Governor’s Office have stepped up to provide tangible assistance to southwest Georgia.

In the F.Y. 2020 budget, the legislature made two one-time expenditures to bolster Georgia’s poultry industry. The Georgia Diagnostic Poultry Laboratory received nearly $3 million in funds to make structural repairs to the facility, and another $300,000 were allocated for the construction of facilities to store the state’s HPAI emergency response equipment. I am thankful for the continued commitment our state leaders make to our largest industry within the agricultural sector.

Two measures that did not receive ultimate passage by both chambers this year were H.B. 545 and S.B. 211. Authored by House Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom McCall, H.B. 545 would have amended current law protecting agricultural operations—including rendering plants and food processing facilities—from nuisance lawsuits. S.B. 211 by Senate Natural Resources Chairman Tyler Harper sought to set the legal definition of meat, beef, pork, or other animal-based food as a food product composed of at least 90 percent animal flesh, offal, or other by-product of a live animal that has been slaughtered. Both bills failed to receive passage by both chambers before the legislature’s deadline on April 2nd, but they will be available for consideration again when the Georgia General Assembly reconvenes next January.

I am thankful for the support our leaders in the General Assembly continue to provide for agriculture. I commit to you that your Georgia Department of Agriculture will continue to promote Georgia’s animal industries, but we cannot do it without a professional and well-trained meat industry and inspection program. I welcome any suggestions from our industry partners as we move forward. What ideas do you have for strengthening the meat inspection program? How can we grow the meat processing industry in Georgia?

Thank you for all that you do, and tell us your ideas.


Gary W. Black

A Word from the Director
Floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, or the loss of power due to wind, snow, or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food products. Knowing how to determine if your products are safe for consumption and how to keep them safe prior to, during, and after an emergency, will help minimize potential loss, and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Michael last year, I thought it would be a good time to place an emphasis on food safety during an emergency.The following tips highlighted in this issue should help you make the right food safety decisions during an emergency. If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Meat Inspection Office at

Aaron Knighton



Safe food handling and storage becomes increasingly challenging during a power outage or natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods.

Steps to Follow to Prepare for a Possible Weather Emergency:

  • Keep a calibrated thermometer in the refrigerator and freezer, which can be utilized to monitor ambient room and product temperature in case of a power outage. It will help determine the safety of the food.
  • Re-familiarize yourself with your HACCP supporting documentation for product chilling holding times and temperatures so that you can easily determine the safety timeline for your meat and poultry.
  • Make sure the freezer is at 0 °F (Fahrenheit) or below and the refrigerator is at 40 °F or below.
  • Freeze refrigerated items such as fresh meat and poultry that you may not need immediately, this helps keep them at a safe temperature longer.
  • If you do not have much product on hand, you may be able to freeze containers of water for ice to help keep food cold after the power is out.
  • Have coolers on hand to keep refrigerator food cold if the power will be out for more than 4 hours. Purchase or make ice cubes and store in the freezer for use in the refrigerator or in a cooler. Freeze gel packs ahead of time for use in coolers.
  • Plan ahead and know where dry ice and block ice can be purchased.
  • If you have a lot of product on hand, you may need a gas powered generator or a refrigerated truck trailer or 'reefer'.
  • Plan ahead and know where you can find a generator or refrigerated  trailer if you do not have one. If you have one, make sure that they are in working order and that you have gas available.
  • Store food on shelves that will be safely out of the way of contaminated water in case of flooding.
  • Group food together in the freezer—this helps the food stay cold longer.
Steps to Follow During and After the Weather Emergency:
  • Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to maintain the cold temperature.
  • Monitor the temperature of the cooler and freezer with a calibrated food thermometer.
  • Obtain block ice or dry ice, a generator, or a refrigerated trailer to keep your refrigerator and freezer as cold as possible if the power is going to be out for a prolonged period of time. Fifty pounds of dry ice should hold an 18-cubic-foot full freezer for 2 days.
  • If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, then check each package of food to determine its safety. If the food still contains ice crystals, the food is safe.
  • Monitor product temperature and time so that you can determine the safety of your meat and poultry.
  • When in Doubt, Throw it Out!
How to Determine What Food to Keep or Discard
  • Do not eat any food that may have come into contact with flood water.
  • Discard any food that is not in a waterproof container if there is any chance that it has come into contact with flood water. Food containers that are not waterproof include those with screw-caps, snap lids, pull tops, and crimped caps. Also, discard cardboard if they have come in contact with flood water, because they cannot be effectively cleaned and sanitized.
  • Inspect canned foods and discard any food in damaged cans. Can damage is shown by swelling, leakage, punctures, holes, fractures, extensive deep rusting, or crushing/denting severe enough to prevent normal stacking or opening with a manual, wheel-type can opener.
Equipment and Utensils 
  • Thoroughly wash all equipment and utensils with soap and hot water. Rinse and then sanitize them in accordance with your Sanitation Standard Operating Procedure (SSOP) i.e., boiling in clean water or immersing them for 15 minutes in a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
Safety of Drinking Water If Flooding Occurs
  • Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.
  • If you don't have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
  • If you can't boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection. Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
  • If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or State health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice. 
Refrigerators and freezers are two of the most important pieces of equipment for keeping food safe. We are instantly reminded of their importance when the power goes off, flooding occurs, or the unit fails, causing food to become unsafe and spoil. The odors that develop when food spoils can be difficult to remove. Use this information to learn how to remove odors from units or how to safely discard an affected unit.
To Remove Odors from Refrigerators and Freezers
If food has spoiled in a refrigerator or freezer and odors from the food remain, they may be difficult to remove. The following procedures may help but may have to be repeated several times.
  • Dispose of any spoiled or questionable food.
  • Remove shelves, crispers, and ice trays. Wash them thoroughly with hot water and detergent. Then rinse with a sanitizing solution (1 tablespoon unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water).
  • Wash the interior of the refrigerator and freezer, including the door and gasket, with hot water and baking soda. Rinse with sanitizing solution as above.
  • Leave the door open for about 15 minutes to allow free air circulation.If odor remains, try any or all of the following:
  • Wipe inside of unit with equal parts vinegar and water. Vinegar provides acid which destroys mildew.
  • Leave the door open and allow to air out for several days.
  • Use a commercial product available at hardware and housewares stores. Follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • If odors cannot be removed, you may have to contact a professional restoration company.
Source: USDA-FSIS A Consumer's Guide to Food Safety: Severe Storms and Hurricanes 
Upcoming Holidays

State Holiday - Monday, April 22, 2019

is a State holiday.
Only state inspected establishments that operate will be charged for inspection services provided. 

Memorial Day - Monday, May 27, 2019
is a State and Federal holiday.
All establishments that operate will be charged for inspection services provided. 

Independence Day - Thursday, July 4, 2019
is a State and Federal holiday.
All establishments that operate will be charged for inspection services provided. 

Georgia Meat Inspection Rules 
FSIS Regulations

FSIS Directive 5000.10
Verifying that Records are Kept by Official Establishments that Grind Beef


This directive provides instructions to inspection program personnel (IPP) on how to verify whether official establishments are maintaining required records concerning suppliers and source materials for raw beef ground at the establishment.

The 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.

Under 9 CFR 320.1(b)(4)(iii), 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.


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 recordkeeping requirements.

FSIS Notice 01-19
Extension of Delayed Implementation of Verification of Revised Appendix A and B.


This notice replaces FSIS Notice 17-18. This new notice informs inspection program personnel (IPP) that establishments that use FSIS Appendix A and B as scientific support for lethality and stabilization procedures may continue to use the 1999 or 2017 versions until further notice.

In the next few months, FSIS will announce in the Federal Register, the availability of updated Appendix A and Appendix B guidance (2019 versions), respond to comments received on the 2017 versions of Appendix A and Appendix B guidance, and announce the date when FSIS will begin to verify that establishments are using the 2019 versions of the guidance (Appendix A and Appendix B) as scientific support for their validated HACCP systems if they choose to use the safe harbors provided in this guidance.


FSIS Directive 7120.1 Revision 49 Safe and Suitable Ingredients Used in the Production of Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products

This directive provides inspection program personnel (IPP) with the latest up-dates to the list of substances that may be used in the production of meat, poultry, and egg products.

FSIS Guideline for Industry Response to Customer Complaints

The purpose of this guideline is to provide industry with reference material on best practices for responding to customer complaints of adulterated and misbranded meat and poultry products.  FSIS developed this document in response to an increase in the number of recalls of meat and poultry products adulterated with foreign materials.  In many cases, the recalling establishments had received multiple customer complaints prior to these recalls.  FSIS specifically developed this document to address foreign material customer complaints, but establishments can apply the information to other customer complaints of adulterated or misbranded products in commerce.  This guideline represents FSIS’s current thinking on this topic and should be considered usable as of the issuance date.

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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GDA Notice of Non-Discrimination

FSIS Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statements

Non-Employee Discrimination Complaints
The Georgia Department of Agriculture does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, age or sex in the administration of its programs or activities. To learn more, or file a complaint, visit:

Quejas por discriminación contra quienes no son empleados
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