The Delaware Department of Agriculture Food Products Inspection assures that domestic meat and poultry products distributed to consumers are safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and honestly and informatively labeled. Provide grading services to poultry plants, shell egg plants, fruit and vegetable growers, and brokers, through cooperative agreements with the United States Department of Agriculture. The section also enforces Delaware Egg Law (retail store inspection).
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Food Safety Certification Information for On-Farm Food Entrepreneurs:
- Apply meat and/or poultry inspection standards that are at least equal to those applied under the Federal Meat Inspection Act, and the Poultry Products Inspection Act.
- Oversee the Self-Certification Program to insure an "equal to" status with the federal program.
- Continue the emphasis on improving the effectiveness of basic field inspection procedures and supervision.
- Coordinate field activities relating to detentions and seizures, voluntary recalls, and other activities necessary to control violative products.
- Provide appropriate training to poultry, shell egg, fruit, and vegetable graders regarding U.S.D.A. regulations and policies.
- Conduct yearly review of existing fee structures to insure that operating costs are accurately reflected in charges to industry for fruit and vegetable grading (USDA sets poultry and shell egg grading fees).
- Insure uniform interpretations and applications of the regulations, instructions, standards, and specifications governing the above services.
- Educate the public on how to properly handle, prepare, and store meat and poultry products to minimize the growth of food-borne pathogens.
In 1967, the first major amendment to the Federal Meat Inspection Act was passed (the Wholesome Meat Act). It established the Federal-State Cooperative Inspection Programs to be "at least equal to" the federal inspection program. The 1968 Wholesome Poultry Products Act extended the same provisions to poultry inspection.
Food Products Inspection is pursuing a broad, long-term, science-based strategy to improve the safety of meat and poultry products and better protect public health.
The strategy will address food safety issues from the farm to the table, including proposed requirements for all federally and state-inspected meat and poultry plants, to reduce pathogenic microorganisms that can cause foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella and E. Coli 0157:H7.
Inspection begins with a review of a slaughtering or processing plant's plans for facilities, equipment, and procedures to assure the plant will have a safe and sanitary operation. All animals are inspected before and after slaughter. After slaughter, each carcass and its internal organs are examined for disease or contamination that would make all or part of the carcass unfit for human consumption.
The USDA maintains cooperative grading agreements with State Departments of Agriculture and other State agencies.
Under these federal-state agreements, federal-state licensed graders perform their work throughout the State at point of origin grading various commodities. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) establishes basic grading policies and procedures.
The grade standards describe the quality requirements for each grade of a commodity, giving the industry a common language for selling and buying.