WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As part of the USDA's 'Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food' initiative, USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service yesterday announced the availability of the compliance guide for mobile slaughter units.

The document presents recommendations and is not a regulatory requirement. FSIS has posted this compliance guide on its Significant Guidance Documents Web page.

"USDA is excited to offer this help to small producers and encourages establishments who own or manage mobile slaughter units to use this guidance document to help meet food safety regulatory requirements," said Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Jerold R. Mande. "Food must be safe, regardless of where it is produced, and FSIS has worked with mobile unit operators to develop inspection procedures tailored to their needs."

A mobile slaughter unit is a self-contained slaughter facility that can travel from site to site. Mobile slaughter units can help producers meet consumer demand for locally grown and specialty products and can serve multiple small producers in areas where slaughter services might be unaffordable or otherwise unavailable. Therefore, mobile slaughter units can help small producers expand their businesses and create wealth in rural communities. Currently, there are five FSIS-inspected red meat mobile slaughter units in the United States.

The Mobile Slaughter Use Compliance Guide is intended for owners and managers of a new or existing red meat or poultry mobile slaughter unit who want their establishment to come under Federal inspection and continue operations in accordance with Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) regulations. Mobile slaughter unit operators are subject to the same regulatory requirements that apply to a fixed ("brick and mortar") facility. The guide also includes the procedures necessary to receive a Federal grant of inspection, unique concerns that may arise with mobile slaughter units, and links to regulatory requirements and resources.

FSIS is seeking comments for this compliance guide and will consider carefully all comments received. Comments will be accepted from May 25, 2010 through July 26, 2010 and submitted to www.regulations.gov (follow the online instructions at that site for submitting comments) or by mail, including floppy disks or CD-ROMS, and hand- or courier-delivered items to: Docket Clerk, USDA, FSIS, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, MD 20705-5474. All items submitted by mail or electronic mail must include the Agency name and docket number FSIS-2010-0004. Comments received in response to this guide will be made available for public inspection and posted without change, including any personal information, to www.regulations.gov.

FSIS is committed to working with small and very small plants to help them improve their food safety systems. Inquiries can be made to the Small Plant Help-Desk by toll-free telephone or by e-mail. The Help-Desk is open from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. EST, Monday through Friday, excluding federal holidays. To speak to a staff specialist during this time, call 1-877-FSISHelp (1-877-374-7435). Customers may also contact the help-desk by e-mail at InfoSource@fsis.usda.gov.