USDA’s remote audit gives a pass to Poland’s pork inspection system
By Dan Flynn, Food Safety News by Marler Clark
January 7, 2022
During the pandemic, virtual inspections of restaurants and domestic food manufacturers became standard. Remote audits of foreign inspection practices are part of that new normal.
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service on Jan. 5 released its remote ongoing verification audit of Poland’s pork products inspection system for May 25 through July 8, 2021.
“Due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the audit was conducted remotely using video conferences to conduct interviews and records reviews,” according to the audit report.
More than 4.1 million of Poland’s population of nearly 38 million have reported COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic in early 2020. More than 99,000 have died.
“The purpose of the audit was to determine whether Poland’s food safety inspection system governing raw and processed pork products remains equivalent to that of the United States, with the ability to export safe, wholesome, unadulterated products and correctly labeled and packaged,” it said.
To the United States, Poland currently exports thermally processed, commercially sterile (TPCS) pork; ready-to-eat (RTE) pork fully-cooked without subsequent exposure to the environment; RTE fully-cooked pork; RTE dried pork; RTE acidified/fermented pork (without cooking); raw intact pork; and not ready-to-eat (NRTE) otherwise processed pork.
The audit focused on six system equivalence components, including:
1. Government Oversight (Organization and Administration).
2. Government Statutory Authority and Food Safety and Other Consumer Protection Regulations ( Inspection System Operation, Product Standards, Labeling, and Humane Handling).
3. Government Sanitation.
4. Government Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) System.
5. Government Chemical Residue Testing Programs.
6. Government Microbiological Testing Programs.
The U.S. FSIS auditors concluded that Poland’s inspection system for raw and processed pork products provides ultimate control, supervision, and enforcement of regulatory requirements.
Poland’s Central Competent Authority (CCA) has required that establishments certified as eligible to export products to the United States implement sanitary operating procedures and a HACCP system designed to improve the safety of their products.
Polish authorities have implemented microbiological and chemical residue testing programs to verify its system. An analysis of each component did not identify any systemic findings representing an immediate threat to public health.
In addition to the FSIS Office of International Coordination, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) oversees requirements to control African Swine Fever (ASF) related to pork from Poland.
The audit report also said FSIS:
· reviewed and analyzed GVI’s Self-Reporting Tool (SRT) responses and supporting documentation before the remote equivalence verification audit. During the audit, the FSIS auditors conducted interviews and reviewed records to determine whether Poland’s food safety inspection system governing pork meat products is being implemented as documented in the country’s SRT responses and supporting documentation.
· applied a risk-based procedure that included an analysis of country performance within six equivalence components, product types and volumes, frequency of prior audit-related site visits, point-of-entry (POE) reinspection, and testing results in specific oversight activities of government offices, and testing capacities of laboratories.
The review process included an analysis of data collected by FSIS over three years and information obtained directly from GVI through the SRT.
“FSIS performed the remote audit to verify that the food safety inspection system meets requirements equivalent to those under the specific provisions of United States laws and regulations, in particular: