By Tim Darnell, HACCP Coordinator, ConAgra

Appeals should be based on facts and scientific observations relating directly to the products and situations in which you find fault with a Non-Compliance Record. In most situations, clarification and recension can be applied at the local or establishment level. Promptly supply all facts and observations relevant to your case to the program employee and/or IIC who made the finding or decision and request that the determination be reconsidered. The reevaluation of the situation and facts concerning the NR will lend to clarification and a greater understanding of the critical thinking process involved with the determination, which will identify the need of any further investigation to this suspect process or product involved in the NR. It is imperative that personality not be a part of this process. If you do find it necessary to submit an official appeal, follow the chain of command found in the FSIS notice 14-98. I would suggest all appeals be completed in writing as verbal communications seem to take on lives of their own. While some establishments may find this to be formal and impersonal, let us not forget the HACCP Enforcement Actions step by step.

FSIS will:

1. document you have a problem

2. Withhold your inspection.

3. Suspend your inspection.

4. Withdraw your inspection.

The preceding actions are all administrative. The FSIS can refer your case to the U.S. Attorney's office for criminal prosecution. Criminal convictions can result in fines, imprisonment, or both. This is why we should always document our side of the story. What needs to be realized is that by appealing an NR, only clarification and understanding can come from it, whether it be granted or denied. The process of appeals leads to a greater understanding on both sides. Whenever appealing an NR, do it with integrity and tact. Do not give the agency any reason to doubt you convictions and integrity. Trust is a precious, fragile gift and should never be compromised. It behooves our industry to always face every situation with our customer's safety as priority #1.

NMA Teleconference on NRs

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