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Those producing nonretail-exempt, multicomponent food kits (such as stir fry and pizza) have a newly revised resource from FSIS: An eight-page booklet with criteria that helps to determine whether the kit product needs to be prepared under FSIS inspection and if so, how to label a kit product that contains inspected and fully labeled meat or poultry components.

Historically, FSIS has not considered kit products that did not reference meat or poultry in the product name, such as “Stir Fry” or “Skillet Meal,” as products of the meat or poultry industry. However, in cases where manufacturers wanted to highlight the meat or poultry component in the coined name, e.g., “Chicken Skillet Meal” or “Gourmet Beef Dinner,” confusion arose as to whether the products should be assembled under FSIS inspection.

Though the Agency has previously required kit products purporting to be meat or poultry products to be assembled under FSIS inspection, after further evaluation, the Agency has determined that the act of assembling a kit product whose label makes reference to meat or poultry in its name does not need to be done under FSIS inspection… as long as certain conditions are met.

Conditions that exempt a kit product from mandatory inspection include:

  • The meat/poultry component is prepared and separately packaged under FSIS inspection,
  • The product is labeled with all required features,
  • The outer label for the kit product identifies all the individual components inside,
  • The outer packaging clearly identifies the product as a single unit or “kit.”

Importantly, food kits are eligible for FSIS voluntary inspection, however, FSIS will no longer provide mandatory inspection services for the assembly of kits. As such, uninspected kits placed into shipping containers must not bear the USDA legend on the shipping container.

Information in this Guideline assists meat and poultry establishments to comply with the inspection and labeling requirements of the Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA), Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA), and the labeling requirements in 9 CFR part 317 and 9 CFR 381 subpart N for wholesale multi-component food kits that contain an inspected and labeled meat or poultry component.

Trust EAS for regulatory assistance with all of your USDA and FDA-regulated products, including food safety and labeling requirements. If you’d like more information on working with EAS, click here. EAS’ partner FSNS, with laboratories located around the country, offers a full scope of USDA-related testing solutions.

Additionally, FSNS Certification and Auditing (C&A) services offer an objective third-party assessment of your current policies and procedures.

Together, EAS, FSNS and FSNS C&A help you to meet your customer’s needs and stay ahead of the competition.

Posted in Foods.