Public Interest Comment on The Food Safety and Inspection Service’s proposed rule: Egg Products Inspection Regulations

eggs
By Richard B. Belzer, Independent Consultant
June 12, 2018

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The George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center improves regulatory policy through research, education, and outreach. As part of its mission, the Center conducts careful and independent analyses to assess rulemaking proposals from the perspective of the public interest. This comment on the Food Safety Inspection Service’s (FSIS’s) proposed “Egg Products Inspection Regulations” does not represent the views of any particular affected party or special interest, but is designed to evaluate the effect of FSIS’s proposal on overall consumer welfare.

Introduction

The Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing to require official plants[1] that process egg products[2] to develop and implement Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems and Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (Sanitation SOPs). At the same time, FSIS would eliminate certain existing regulatory requirements that it considers inconsistent with HACCP, Sanitation SOPs, and other new regulatory requirements, but add new labeling requirements. Official plants would be subject to the regulation, and all manufacturing facilities that process egg products must be official plants.

HAACP is a process management system that includes the identification of food safety hazards, the identification of critical control points for managing hazards using process monitoring equipment, and the conduct of a hazard analysis, all combined into a HACCP plan that includes prescribed preventive measures and corrective actions taken in response to exceedances of a critical limit.[3] A key feature of HACCP-style regulation is extensive recordkeeping used for validation, verification, and reassessment with a focus on continuous improvement toward zero risk.[4]

FSIS characterizes the proposed rule as deregulatory, with an estimated cost saving of $1.29 million ($2016) per year.[5]

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[1]   Official plant means “any plant in which the plant facilities, methods of operation and sanitary procedures have been found suitable and adequate by the Administrator for the continuous inspection of egg products in accordance with this part and in which inspection service is carried on.” 9 C.F.R. § 590.5.

[2]   Egg products means “any dried, frozen, or liquid eggs, with or without added ingredients, excepting products which contain eggs only in a relatively small proportion or historically have not been, in the judgment of the Secretary, considered by consumers as products of the egg food industry, and which may be exempted by the Secretary under such conditions as he may prescribe to assure that the egg ingredients are not adulterated and such products are not represented as egg products. For the purposes of this part, the following products, among others, are exempted as not being egg products: Freeze-dried products, imitation egg products, egg substitutes, dietary foods, dried no-bake custard mixes, egg nog mixes, acidic dressings, noodles, milk and egg dip, cake mixes, French toast, and sandwiches containing eggs or egg products, provided, such products are prepared from inspected egg products or eggs containing no more restricted eggs than are allowed in the official standards for U.S. Consumer Grade B shell eggs. Balut and other similar ethnic delicacies are also exempted from inspection under this part.” 9 C.F.R. § 590.5.

[3]   All definitions are found in 9 C.F.R. § 417.1-2.

[4]  See 9 C.F.R. Part 417 generally. As indicated below, another purpose is to convert risk-based regulation into paperwork-based compliance.

[5]   USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (2018, p. 6343).