The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) has established a uniform appeals time period requirement for the filing of appeals of certain FSIS inspection decisions or actions. The new final rule also clarifies and simplifies FSIS requirements and procedures concerning appeals of inspection decisions.

The requirement applies to appeals of decisions or actions related to both mandatory federal inspection and voluntary inspection services. The requirement does not apply to appeals of FSIS decisions or actions unrelated to inspection and, therefore, does not include actions related to refusing approval of labels nor the appeals of agency responses to requests made under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

The final rule, Establishing a Uniform Time Period Requirement and Clarifying Related Procedures for the Filing of Appeals of Agency Inspection Decisions or Actions (87 FR 63420), requires appeals to be made within 30 calendar days after receiving written notification of FSIS inspection decisions or actions. Any establishment subject to mandatory federal inspection or any facility receiving voluntary inspection services that take issue with an agency decision or action may file an appeal.

The 30-day time period applies to the initial appeal, which is to be made to the immediate supervisor of the inspector or to another agency employee who undertook the contested decision or action, and also applies to all subsequent appeals for the same issue within the FSIS chain of command, as set out in FSIS Directive 13000.3.

The appellant may support the appeal by any argument or evidence as to why the appeal should be granted. Additionally, FSIS has eliminated the requirement that the appellant must bear the cost of an appeal of an agency decision or action if the appeal is determined to be frivolous.

The final rule is effective December 19, 2022.