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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Animal & Veterinary

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by Frances M. Pell
FDA Veterinarian Newsletter November/December 1999 Volume XIV, No VI

The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA), Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM) hosted a National Food Safety Meeting in Las Vegas, Nevada on September 20-23, 1999. Approximately 100 participants represented FDA Headquarters and District Offices, Cooperating State Agencies, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), and the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. FSIS has recently reorganized and has been implementing their new Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations for the meat and poultry plants under their jurisdiction since 1998. This meeting provided an opportunity for CVM, along with USDA’s headquarters and Field personnel to ensure the residue reduction effort between FDA, FSIS and our partnering states continues and strengthens. As part of the Food Safety Initiative, the agencies are working to develop a seamless farm-to-table safe meat supply.

The comprehensive agenda covered a variety of topics related to food safety. Dr. Pat Basu, USDA, FSIS, gave presentations on the changes in FSIS’s sampling program and the Surveillance Advisory Team Process (SAT). He stressed the coordination and cooperative efforts between FDA and FSIS in developing both of these programs. Dr. Basu also discussed the improvements and gave specific examples, such as the addition of recently approved drugs to the sampling program. Ms. Gloria Dunnavan, CVM’s Director of Compliance, gave an overview of the Agency’s Food Safety Initiative Strategic Plan. Ms. Dunnavan also discussed the recent Dioxin contamination in Europe and how the Agency has handled the issue to ensure consumer protection.

A portion of the meeting was devoted to the interagency (FDA and FSIS) drug residue reduction efforts, including the potential public health implications of veterinary drug residues in food animals, and an evaluation of inspectional findings from FDA investigations. Presentations from both FDA and FSIS were given on these topics.

Dr. Craig Schultz, USDA-FSIS, gave a thorough explanation of the changes he implemented in sampling cull cows for drug residues in a slaughter plant. He instructed inspectors to take samples of cows exhibiting clinical signs of certain diseases common to dairy cows, such as mastitis and metritis. This was in addition to the routine sampling conducted by USDA at slaughter plants based on anti-mortem (prior to slaughter) inspection.

Mr. Gary Stefan, USDA-FSIS, gave a presentation on the "National Residue Program Development Team". The team, comprised of FDA and FSIS personnel, developed a drug residue testing plan, and USDA is currently developing the mechanism for implementation. Mr. Mike Grasso, USDA-FSIS, discussed the "FSIS Model Program," an enforcement and inspection program FSIS is implementing in USDA-inspected plants. He also discussed the new position description for USDA plant inspectors. USDA has proposed changing the job series of plant inspectors from Food Inspectors to Consumer Safety Technicians and Consumer Safety Officers, depending on the employee’s duties. This change would provide the USDA plant employees more opportunities for advancement.

Other presentations given by FDA included: a scientific update on fumonisins, the relationship between antimicrobial resistance, selection pressure, and human health impacts, an overview of the Agency's Antimicrobial Susceptibility Monitoring Program, a brief review of CVM's "Framework Document" for Antimicrobial Resistance, BSE's impact on human health and feed regulations, how FDA establishes tolerances and a summary of Contamination Response System findings.

The third day of the meeting concluded with FDA Field investigators, our cooperating state inspectors, and FSIS District Managers giving presentations on specific drug residue issues from their respective District or State. These presentations generated a great deal of interaction between FDA, FSIS and the State agencies. There were discussions of problems encountered in enforcement along with possible solutions. Many of the FDA and FSIS District officials began to coordinate new enforcement strategies during this meeting.

Many of the participants felt the meeting was beneficial because it provided an open forum for problem solving and communication between the agencies. CVM was encouraged to hold more joint meetings of this type in the future. It provided an excellent opportunity for FDA, FSIS and State agency officials to coordinate and enhance a strong working relationship on food safety issues.