This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) shared a new industry resource: the FSIS Guideline for Industry Response to Customer Complaints 2019

What is the purpose of this document?
These USDA guidelines are designed to help meat and poultry establishments develop a written program to respond to customer complaints—particularly those caused by adulterated or misbranded meat and poultry products. Within the document are best practices for the meat and poultry industry to follow in response to customer complaints. It serves as 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.

Who are these best practices for?
The guidelines are meant to assist all FSIS-regulated establishments that slaughter or further process inspected meat and poultry products to develop and implement procedures for responding to customer complaints to prevent recurrence of similar product adulteration or misbranding events. This document is not regulatory. Establishments may choose to adopt different procedures than those outlined in this guideline.

As USDA FSIS continues efforts to improve its industry policies and procedures, the agency is accepting stakeholder comments that may help to further advance the current best practices. Comments can be submitted until May 15, 2019, upon which time the document will be updated and republished. Refer to the guidelines for more information about how to submit feedback.

More on meat and poultry contamination:
Preventing Foreign Material in Red Meat: Measure Twice
Foreign-Material Reduction Programs: An Integrated Approach Using Teamwork 
Foreign Materials in Food: Control and Evaluation 
The Dirty Dozen: 12 Ways to Reduce the Biggest Foreign Materials Problems

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