Ga Dept of Agriculture


Meat Inspection Quarterly Newsletter Volume 2

GMIS Newsletter Volume 2
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Volume 2
The Commissioner's Corner
Commissioner Gary W Black Photo

As I went to write my piece for the Commissioner’s Corner, I was reminded of a devotional I read the other morning that stressed the importance of having your priorities straight and not letting small tasks overtake a larger mission. The devotional read:

A man who was teaching on priorities had a large jar and several large rocks. He placed five or six large rocks in the jar until no more could fit. Then he asked his audience, “Is the jar full?” and almost everyone shouted “yes!” He smiled and then pulled out a bag of smaller rocks and dumped them in until no more could fit. Then he pulled out a bag of sand and poured that into the jar until it couldn’t hold anymore.

Lastly, he pulled out a jug of water and poured water into the jar until it overflowed. He then paused and asked the question, “What was the point of this example?” The answers began to fly: “You can always add a little more,” “You should never be satisfied with the amount of things you are doing,” and “If you try harder, you can always do more.”

The crowd was pleased with itself until the speaker smiled one more time and said, “You are all wrong—very wrong.” He said, “The moral of this example is this. If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never fit them in. You see, we often lose in the areas that matter most because our time and energy are consumed on the little things and keep us from winning when it matters most.”

Many people cringed as they realized this was a picture of their over scheduled, under prioritized lives. Their lives were packed with the small rocks, the sand, and the water—their jars were full, but they were not doing the things that mattered most. Interestingly, you can skip your priorities and still seem “successful” to the outside world.

Priorities are the foundations that your house of life will be built on. They become life-goals that help set your path and direction. Each of us have our own jars filled with large rocks, priorities that represent our families, our faith, our careers and other values that make up the sand and water.

At the Georgia Department of Agriculture, the large rocks that fill up our jar can be found in our agency’s mission statement. Our priorities are to protect consumers, promote agriculture both locally and globally and assist our customers.

While we may have additional tasks to attend to—the sand and water in our jars—we must continuously focus on those large rocks and serve the people of Georgia to the best of our abilities.

Commissioner Gary W. Black

A Word from the Director
Commissioner Gary W Black Photo

I often receive questions from establishment owners and managers about actions that the Georgia Meat Inspection Section (GMIS) might take in response to noncompliances observed. I’m always happy to field these questions in an effort to help you have a better understanding of our thought processes and inspection methodology. 

Basically, there are no secrets to our approach and no “gotchas”, just a simple telling of, and response to, the facts in each situation. Although each noncompliance that we identify is handled on a case-by-case basis, there are foundational principles that we must follow to ensure consistency throughout the state. We must also ensure that our actions are equal-to the standards that USDA holds us accountable to. 

Since this topic is too lengthy for a single newsletter, we will provide the information to you in a series of articles on the subject. For this first article, I will focus on noncompliance records (NRs), including your right to respectfully appeal any decision that GMIS staff make. Later volumes of this GMIS newsletter will include subsequent articles in this series describing additional actions that GMIS may take including: Regulatory Control Actions, Notices of Intended Enforcement (NOIEs), Letters of Warning (LOWs), Administrative Penalties, Suspension, Withdrawal, etc.   

Noncompliance Records (NRs)

Definition: An official form used by meat inspection staff to document and communicate noncompliances observed to owners and/or managers of licensed meat establishments.

Discussion: When GMIS inspection staff observe noncompliance with regulatory requirements while inspecting your establishment, he or she is expected to document these noncompliances on a NR. This NR serves as a tool to document and communicate our findings to you. 

I’ve had establishment owners and managers make comments to me that “receiving a NR is like receiving a traffic violation from a cop” and “I would rather the inspector just talk to me about the issue and let me fix it”. I invite our establishment owners and managers to take a new perspective when they receive a NR, as follows:

  • If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.
  • If our inspector doesn’t document his or her findings, it’s very difficult for us to hold our inspection staff accountable for conducting their assigned duties. 
  • The documentation of noncompliance brings to your attention an issue that has not been addressed by your food safety system and it gives you an opportunity to take corrective actions on an issue that you might have otherwise not known about. 
  • It is in the best interest of all parties involved (the consumers of your product, the continued success of your business, and the integrity of our state meat inspection program), for these noncompliances to be consistently documented and adequately addressed. 
  • Although it is not our inspector’s job to be your quality assurance manager, if we point out a noncompliance and you take appropriate corrective action, your establishment benefits from increased quality assurance. 
What should you do when you receive a NR?

You have two options when you receive a NR. 
Option 1. Take corrective actions in response to the identified noncompliance. 
  • If you take corrective actions in response to a NR that you’ve received, the inspector will close the NR, and the system is working. 
  • We certainly don’t expect you to be perfect, but as long as you take corrective actions and learn from your past noncompliances, everything is working as intended.
Option 2. Appeal the findings to the inspector’s immediate supervisor if the inspector is unable to communicate to you how the issue is a noncompliance with established regulations. 
  • Anything that we say or do is subject to your right to appeal.  Believe it or not, I encourage our licensed facilities to respectfully appeal if they are not satisfied with the inspectors’ explanation of the issue being a noncompliance with regulatory requirements. 
  • Just like when we document a noncompliance in your establishment and you take corrective actions, the reverse is true of an appeal.  When you appeal a decision that we have made, it causes us to conduct an internal review of the situation to ensure that we are only holding you to mandated regulatory requirements.  Challenges from licensed facilities are a great way for our program to learn from our mistakes and to grow and improve. This, in turn, has a positive impact on the whole system (including our program, licensed facilities, and the end consumer). 
  • To appeal a finding, simply communicate with the inspector’s immediate supervisor verbally or in writing.  A written appeal is preferred, as it helps reduce information from being lost in translation, and ensures we have a record of the conversation, so that the decision can be utilized in the future in other similar circumstances, and context can be better understood. 

In our next newsletter I will continue with part 2 of this series. I will discuss various regulatory control actions that GMIS might take – including retain and reject tags, security tape and tags, and the slowing and stoppage of lines.

Adam Buuck, MPH, CPH
GMIS Director


Department Dates

Upcoming Holidays

Veterans Day - November 11, 2017
will be observed on Friday, November 10, 2017.
This is a State and Federal holiday.

*All establishments that operate will be charged for
inspection services provided. 

Thanksgiving Day - Thursday, November 23, 2017
is a State and Federal holiday.

*All establishments that operate will be charged for
inspection services provided. 

Christmas Day - Monday, December 25, 2017
is a State and Federal holiday.

*All establishments that operate will be charged for
inspection services provided. 
Georgia Meat Inspection Rules
FSIS Regulations

FSIS Notice 50-17 - Verification of Adequate Controls At Establishments in Areas Affected by Recent Hurricanes.

  • IPP assigned to establishments in areas affected by recent hurricanes are to inform affected establishments that they are required to reassess their HACCP plans and are to verify that establishments take appropriate actions to produce wholesome and unadulterated product.
  • IPP are to verify whether the establishment's SSOP and any cleaning and related monitoring are adequate to address any additional sanitation problems related to the hurricanes (this has already been completed during recent plant visits and sanitation checks)
  • IPP will review the establishment's testing data to identify any adverse trends that may indicate problems with microbial contamination
  • Establishments that produce RTE products that were affected by service failures including flooding, prolonged electric service failure, and boil water orders, RLm sampling may be scheduled to verify restoration of sanitary conditions upon re-starting operations. 

FSIS Compliance Guidance for Label Approval (Aug 2017)

This guideline is designed to help establishments determine what special statements or claims on labels which require submission to FSIS for approval or that can be generically approved. Additional information about label approval is provided as well.



We are available to provide outreach on most regulatory requirements.  Just contact us with your questions and we’ll get you in touch with someone who can provide you with the right answers. 
If we can’t answer your questions over the phone, we’ll send out a representative to review your specific situation and documentation and provide guidance on regulatory compliance. 

Please direct your feedback to:
GMIS Atlanta Office
Georgia Department of Agriculture
Meat Inspection Section, Room 108
19 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive
Atlanta, Georgia  30334
(404) 656-3673

USDA Small Plant Help Desk
Phone:  1-877-374-7435
The Meat Inspection newsletter is produced quarterly by the Meat Inspection Division in an effort to inform all Georgia meat inspection facilities of local, state and national industry updates. The newsletter should serve as an educational update crossing locational barriers throughout the state of Georgia. Thank you to all who contribute and read the newsletter each quarter.
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Copyright © *|2017|* *|Georgia Department of Agriculture|*, All rights reserved.
*|Meat Inspection Divison|*
Volume 2017, Issue 1

For more information please click on the links below.

 GDA Notice of Non-Discrimination and FSIS Equal Employment Opportunity Policy Statements

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