[Federal Register Volume 68, Number 207 (Monday, October 27, 2003)]
[Notices]
[Pages 61183-61184]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 03-26967]


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DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

Food Safety and Inspection Service

[Docket No. 03-032N]


Public Meeting on Risk Analysis; Notice and Request for Comments

AGENCY: Food Safety and Inspection Service, USDA.

ACTION: Notice of public meeting and request for comments on risk 
analysis standard operating procedures.

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SUMMARY: The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is announcing 
that it will hold a public meeting on risk analysis on November 13, 
2003. The meeting will provide a forum for experts from government, 
academia, industry and consumer organizations to discuss current 
government thinking and activities regarding how the three components 
of the risk analysis framework--risk assessment, risk management, and 
risk communication--are used to inform and implement risk management 
decisions.

DATES: The public meeting is scheduled for Thursday, November 13, 2003. 
The meeting will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

ADDRESSES: The public meeting will be held at the Washington Plaza 
Hotel, 10 Thomas Circle, NW., Washington, DC 20005, Conference 
Room: National Hall. An agenda is available in the FSIS Docket Room and 
on the Internet at http://www.fsis.usda.gov. FSIS welcomes comments on 
the topics to be discussed at the public meeting. Please send an 
original to the FSIS Docket Room, Reference Docket 03-032N, 
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, 
Room 102 Cotton Annex, 300 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700. 
All comments and the official transcript of the meeting, when they 
become available, will be kept in the FSIS Docket Room at the address 
provided above.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Dr. Patricia Schwartz at (202) 205-
0032. Registration for the meeting will be onsite. FSIS encourages 
attendees to pre-register as soon as possible by contacting Ms. Mary 
Harris of the FSIS Planning Staff at (202) 690-6497 or by e-mail to 
mary.harris@fsis.usda.gov. If a sign language interpreter or other 
special accommodations are necessary, contact Ms. Harris at the above 
numbers no later than November 6, 2003.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Background

    On July 10, 2003, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa 
Murano released a food safety vision document to guide continuing 
efforts by FSIS to fulfill its mission of protecting public health by 
improving the safety of meat, poultry, and egg products. The document 
is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/programs/vision071003.htm. 
This document sets out five core goals and describes several 
initiatives FSIS is undertaking. One of the core goals is to ensure 
that FSIS policy decisions are based on sound science.
    Risk analysis includes three elements--risk assessment, risk 
management, and risk communication. Risk assessment is a scientifically 
based process of evaluating hazards and the likelihood of exposure to 
those hazards, and then estimating the resulting public health impact. 
Risk management involves using all of the information gathered during 
the assessment to evaluate policy options and then selecting and 
implementing measures that can be applied to reduce the risk. Risk 
communication involves communication of the process and results of the 
risk assessment to the general public, as well as the ongoing 
communication among risk assessors, managers, and stakeholders during 
the entire process.
    FSIS has completed several risk assessments, including those for 
Salmonella Enteritidis in eggs, Escherichia coli O157:H7 in ground 
beef, and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry 
products. USDA (including FSIS) contracted with Harvard University's 
School of Public Health for a risk assessment on bovine spongiform 
encephalopathy (BSE). The results of these risk assessments have been 
used to develop food safety risk management strategies.
    In order to direct its food safety risk assessment activities, USDA 
has established a Food Safety Risk Assessment Committee. The 
Committee's purpose is to enhance coordination and communication among 
various USDA agencies to promote scientifically sound risk assessments 
and to foster research to support risk assessments. Because risk 
analysis is playing a significant role in the Agency's regulatory 
decision-making, FSIS has developed a standard operating procedures 
document (SOP) to outline the process of risk analysis at FSIS and to 
define clearly the role of various participants. The risk analysis SOP 
has been posted on the FSIS Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/
rdad/default.htm. FSIS is requesting comments on the SOP until December 
26, 2003. Send your written comments on the SOP to the FSIS Docket 
Room, Reference Docket 03-032N, U.S. Department of 
Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 102 Cotton Annex, 
300 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20250-3700. Any comments received 
will be available for public inspection in the FSIS Docket Room from 
8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday except Federal holidays.

Public Meeting

    The Agency is providing a forum to inform the public about the risk 
analysis process at FSIS. FSIS is seeking input on the process as 
outlined in the risk analysis SOP.
    The meeting will consist of sessions on the elements of risk 
analysis and the process of risk analysis at FSIS. Examples of risk 
assessments that have been conducted will be used to illustrate the 
process. Following these sessions, a panel of experts will provide 
their perspectives on key issues of concern to FSIS regarding the 
conduct of risk analysis.
    FSIS has developed a list of questions for which it seeks input.
    [sbull] How can FSIS improve the transparency of the risk analysis 
process?
    [sbull] How can FSIS balance the need for transparency, stakeholder 
involvement, and peer review with the need for timely scientific 
guidance?
    [sbull] How can FSIS ensure that it has the necessary data to 
conduct risk assessments and that the data are of sufficient quality?
    [sbull] How should FSIS determine what type of peer review is 
appropriate for a particular risk assessment?
    [sbull] How can risk assessments better inform policy development 
and decision-making?

Additional Public Notification

    Public involvement in all segments of rulemaking and policy 
development is important. Consequently, in an effort to ensure that 
minorities, women, and persons with disabilities are aware of this 
notice and informed about the mechanism for providing their comments, 
FSIS will announce it and make copies of this Federal Register 
publication available through the FSIS Constituent Update. FSIS 
provides a weekly FSIS Constituent Update, which

[[Page 61184]]

is communicated via Listserv, a free e-mail subscription service. In 
addition, the update is available on line through the Internet at 
http://www.fsis.usda.gov. The update is used to provide information 
regarding FSIS policies, procedures, regulations, Federal Register 
notices, FSIS public meetings, recalls, and any other types of 
information that could affect or would be of interest to our 
constituents and stakeholders. The constituent Listserv consists of 
industry, trade, and farm groups, consumer interest groups, allied 
health professionals, scientific professionals, and other individuals 
who have requested to be included. Through the Listserv and web page, 
FSIS is able to provide information to a much broader, more diverse 
audience.
    For more information, contact the Congressional and Public Affairs 
Office at (202) 720-9113. To be added to the free e-mail subscription 
service (Listserv), go to the ``Constituent Update'' page on the FSIS 
Web site at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/oa/update.htm. Click on the 
``Subscribe to the Constituent Update Listserv'' link, then fill out 
and submit the form.

    Done in Washington, DC, on: October 21, 2003.
Garry L. McKee,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 03-26967 Filed 10-24-03; 8:45 am]
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