WASHINGTON — The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently released its guidelines for ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry items intended to help small and very small meat establishments.

The document from the agency shares practices for shelf-stable, fermented, salt-cured and dried meat and poultry products that do not use cooking as the primary lethality step.

“It is important that small and very small establishments have access to a full range of scientific and technical support, and the assistance needed to establish safe and effective Hazards Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) systems,” FSIS said in the document. “Although large plants can benefit from the information, focusing the guideline on the needs of small and very small establishments provides them with assistance that may be otherwise unavailable to them.”  

For more guidance, FSIS recommended that establishments seek information from state university extension service specialists and HACCP coordinators to develop food safety plans that are not provided in regulatory requirements. One of the resources the agency referenced was the Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network.

FSIS encouraged a 60-day commenting period for stakeholders to provide additional feedback on the guidelines at the Federal Register.