If you are a meat processor, and you believe your inspector has given you an “NR” or noncompliance record that is unwarranted or an error, you have the right to appeal the inspector’s decision. Many processors are hesitant to appeal, for fear of damaging their relationship with their FSIS inspector . However, FSIS emphasizes that processors should not fear retaliation if they choose to appeal.
Small meat processors who are members of the NMPAN Listserve and have utilized the appeal process say that it works well and offer this advice:
- Use the appeal process sparingly, but don’t hesitate to use it if you feel you are correct.
- Never make it emotional or personal. Stick to facts, regulations and science.
- Follow the chain of command and fully expect that it is going to go through your inspector, the IIC (Inspector-in-Charge) and the FLS (Frontline Supervisor) if not beyond that. The appeal process can be slow and time-consuming, so be ready to exercise patience!
For more information, consult FSIS’s Compliance Guideline for Small and Very Small Plants Appealing Inspection Decisions as well as this article from Food Safety News “How to Appeal FSIS Noncompliance Records.”