FSIS Solicits Bids For Food Safety

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is soliciting applications for cooperative agreements for a collaborative outreach program on food safety and defense to assist Spanish-speaking small and very small plant owners and operators.

FSIS will award between $50,000 and $100,000 to one or more cooperative agreements this fiscal year. This program will support operations that generally have fewer technical and financial resources than large facilities which may be exacerbated when English is not the predominant language spoken by plant owners and operators.

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The Spanish-speaking training and outreach program is intended to increase the knowledge of and compliance with FSIS regulations while providing specialized assistance to this market segment. Enhanced outreach is an essential component of the Agency's regulatory program and is one of six priorities outlined in the FSIS Strategic Plan released this year.

In addition to food defense training, the program will address meat, poultry and processed egg product regulations, policies and procedures. This program also will provide resources to plant operators in Spanish-speaking countries with an interest in exporting products to the United States.

In 2005, FSIS began an initiative encouraging owners and operators to develop food defense plans in federally inspected meat, poultry and processed egg product establishments. The Agency provided a number of model plans and other resources to assist establishments in creating a food defense plan specific to their operations.

In March 2008, FSIS launched a new program area dedicated to providing outreach and training to small and very small plant owners. The Office of Outreach, Education and Employee Training (OOEET) offers consolidated resources and assistance to industry and FSIS employees. Small and very small plant owners and operators have access to a wealth of resources on the FSIS Web site, through printed publications and recorded materials as well as by speaking directly with Agency personnel.

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