FSIS issues correction to partial quality control rule. The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is publishing a notice correcting its final rule to eliminate remaining requirements for partial quality control (PQC) programs. The correction pertains to the control of process deviations such as incorrect heating time, temperature or pressure -- and finished product inspections at meat and poultry canning institutions. The final rule, effective Aug. 28, removed remaining design requirements for partial quality control programs, as well as the requirements to have PQC programs for certain products or processes in meat and poultry processing plants. The rule provides greater flexibility to plants to adopt new technologies and consistency with the agency's regulations on HACCP system operations, improving food safety.

FSIS indicated that a correction to the final rule is needed because the actual change in the regulation concerning canning establishments was inconsistent with the explanation in the preamble. The preamble stated that alternative documented procedures were an option for handling process deviations or final product inspections. However, the regulatory text of the final rule provided this option for handling final product inspections only. The correction will add handling process deviations in the regulatory text. "This change ensures that plants have the flexibility to use their existing PQC programs or alternative documentation to meet regulatory requirements," said FSIS administrator Thomas J. Billy.

In other FSIS-related news, the agency has proposed sharing some proprietary information with state and other federal government agencies when a recall of meat or other poultry products is being conducted. "Sharing recall information helps all government agencies involved work together more professionally to en-sure the effectiveness of a recall," Billy said.

Under the proposed rule, FSIS may, in the interest of public health, share some confidential proprietary information with other government agencies in connection with the recalls of meat, poultry and egg products. Because Congress recognizes the need for the federal government to withhold certain categories of information from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, agencies receiving the information would provide written agreements not to disclose proprietary information without the company's written permission or written confirmation from FSIS.

FSIS will continue to issue news releases for all meat and poultry recalls, with the releases indicating the health risk posed by the product and whether the product is identifiable to consumers.