FSIS Removes Mask Mandate for Meat Processing Facilities
USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service this week removed mandatory mask requirements at federally inspected meat processing facilities. As of March 1st, FSIS Notice 34-21 requiring masks was rescinded. FSIS-regulated establishments are no longer subject to suspension or withdrawal of inspection services for failure to require their employees to wear masks when FSIS inspection program personnel are present.
The action follows CDC guidance changes recommending wearing a well-fitting mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status, only in areas experiencing a high level of COVID-19 and severe disease. However, FSIS employees must continue to wear masks at this time as set out in the USDA workplace safety plan.
U.S. Cattlemen’s Association Beef Processing Committee Chairman Patrick Robinette welcomed the FSIS action, saying the updated guidance “will put back into operation several regional processing facilities that were forced to go offline due to the previous guidance.”
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