In January 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS) started a multi-year, nationwide pilot project to figure out whether retail delicatessens are using the recommendations given in its Retail Lm Guidance. FSIS tracked progress for this pilot project in the fiscal year (FY) 2021 FSIS Annual Plan and the FY 2017–2021 FSIS Strategic Plan.
FSIS has decided to discontinue its retail Listeria monocytogenes surveillance because its data has now shown that retailers have been consistently following a high percentage of its recommendations. FSIS made this decision as of September 30, 2021. Going forth, FSIS' intention is to broaden its reach by partnering with retail trade associations and state regulatory authorities to assist in the distribution of educational materials for this initiative.
During the project, FSIS investigators sent out 7,114 questionnaires in retail delis to determine if the recommendations were being adopted. In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021, FSIS reviewed 155 questionnaires completed by investigators in retail delis. The agency exceeded its target, which was 92 percent, with the retailers following 93 percent of the 33 recommendations over the previous 12 months.
Additionally, under its strategic and annual plans, FSIS is tracking whether the retail delis assessed are following the top eight recommendations from the FSIS Retail Lm Guidance, which are listed on pages 1–2 of the FSIS Directive 10.310.1- Pilot Project: Control of Listeria monocytogenes in Retail Delicatessens.
In the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021, FSIS reviewed 151 questionnaires conducted by investigators in which all eight recommendations could be assessed. The agency exceeded its annual target, with 75 percent of retailers following all eight of the most important guidelines (the target was 64 percent). The results are similar to those of last fiscal year and quarter, with FSIS meeting or exceeding its targets for both measures.