The National Grocers Association (NGA) today submitted comments to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regarding its proposed rule, released in July of this year, that requires all makers of ground beef, including grocery stores, to keep better sourcing records in order to help the agency and retailers conduct recalls.
Citing the high compliance costs and burdens these regulations would impose on independent supermarkets, NGA expressed concern that many of its members would no longer be able to provide consumers with beef ground freshly in store. Through feedback from its membership, NGA estimated that the proposed rule would cost independent supermarkets more than $387 million dollars in compliance costs annually.
“Independent retail supermarkets are known for providing high quality service in their meat departments, which often have on-premise butchers who provide value, variety, and service. The proposed rule as currently written places unnecessary new regulatory burdens and costs onto supermarkets and will particularly impact NGA’s members who often differentiate themselves in the marketplace through their meat departments,” said Peter J. Larkin, president and CEO of NGA. “We urge FSIS to adopt NGA’s recommendations and we look forward to continuing to work with the Agency on this matter.”
NGA’s members are committed to providing their consumers with high quality meats and ensuring the safety of the food supply. NGA believes that FSIS can make modifications to the proposed rule that will significantly reduce independent retailer compliance costs, while preserving the goal of establishing more effective food safety protocols.
In its comments, NGA outlined several suggestions, such as reducing the amount of data required and reducing the frequency of required record keeping, as well as eliminating the requirement to log customer requested grinds of muscle cuts. NGA also strongly urged the Agency to consider the impact the proposed rule will have on small businesses and to take steps to reduce those burdens.