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9 CFR 416.2(c): Lighting

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The scope of 9 CFR 416.2(c)is limited to the quality and intensity of light present in areas where food is processed, handled, stored, or examined; where equipment and utensils are cleaned; and in handwashing areas, dressing and locker rooms, and toilets within the official establishment.

Lighting of good quality and sufficient intensity to ensure that sanitary conditions are maintained and that product is not adulterated must be provided in areas where food is processed, handled, stored, or examined; where equipment and utensils are cleaned; and in handwashing areas, dressing and locker rooms, and toilets.

  • Lighting is of “good quality’ if the lighting faithfully reveals the color of the object observed in comparison to natural light.  The quantitative measure of light quality is the color rendering index (CRI).  The CRI of natural light is 100; the best possible light for observing color.  Light sources with a CRI of 85 to 90 are considered good at color rendering.  
  • Lighting is of “sufficient intensity” if the amount of light emitted reveals the object observed. The quantitative measure of light intensity is the lumen.  One lumen equals one footcandle (SAE unit) or 10.8 lux (metric unit).

FSIS eliminated prescriptive lighting requirements in 1999.  Allegations of noncompliance based on a CRI or lumen value alone are unsupportable.  Allegations of noncompliance that link either light quality or light intensity to conditions whereby product may be contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health are supportable.  For example:

  • The establishment replaced the light fixtures in the carcass holding cooler with clear mercury lamps, which produce white light with a bluish-green tint.  White adipose tissue appears bluish-green and red muscle tissue appears purplish-brown.  Inability to see wholesome tissue in true color creates a condition whereby you may not recognize that product is contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.  9 CFR 416.2(c) noncompliance exists.
  • The establishment replaced all the 100-watt incandescent bulbs in the packaging and spice storage room with 5-watt compact fluorescent lamps.  Labels are still readable, but with difficulty.  Difficulty reading labels on stored packaging material and spices does not create a condition whereby you may not recognize that product is contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.  9 CFR 416.2(c) compliance exists.

9 CFR, Chapter III establishes lighting requirements at the FSIS inspection stations.  These are facilities for inspection requirements; conditions an official establishment must provide to FSIS as a condition of receiving inspection services.  They are not sanitation performance standards.

  • 9 CFR 307.2(m)(2) requires a “minimum of 50-footcandles (538.2 lux) of shadow-free lighting at the inspection surfaces of the head, viscera, and carcass” to perform livestock post mortem inspection.  Anything less is not of ‘sufficient intensity.’
  • 9 CFR 381.36(c)(1)(viii) requires a “minimum of 200-footcandles (2152.8 lux) of shadow-free lighting with a minimum color rendering index value of 85 where the birds are inspected to facilitate inspection.”

About the author

Michael Fisher

Husband of one. Father of three. Grandfather of six. Soldier. Traveler. Advisor. Friend.

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