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9 CFR 416.2(e) Plumbing

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The scope of 9 CFR 416.2(e)is limited to the pipes that distribute potable water throughout the official establishment and convey sewage and liquid disposable waste from the establishment. 

9 CFR 416.2(e) Plumbing systems must be installed and maintained to: 

  1. Carry sufficient quantities of water to required locations throughout the establishment;
  2. Properly convey sewage and liquid disposable waste from the establishment;
  3. Prevent adulteration of product, water supplies, equipment, and utensils and prevent the creation of insanitary conditions throughout the establishment;
  4. Provide adequate floor drainage in all areas where floors are subject to flooding-type cleaning or where normal operations release or discharge water or other liquid waste on the floor;
  5. Prevent back-flow conditions in and cross-connection between piping systems that discharge waste water or sewage and piping systems that carry water for product manufacturing; and
  6. Prevent the backup of sewer gases.

9 CFR 416.2(e)(1) through 9 CFR 416.2(e)(4) are conditional.  Allegations of noncompliance based on the presence ofthe quantity of water carried, sewage conveyed, or floor drained alone are unsupportable. Allegations of noncompliance that link thequantity of water carried, sewage conveyed, or floor drainedto conditions whereby product may be contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health are supportable.  For example:

  • The official establishment constructed an addition to its existing facility, doubling the volume of the potable water system and decreasing the available water pressure by 50%. The official establishment added one employee to the daily clean-up crew and increased daily clean-up time by two hours. Food contact and non-food contact surfaces continue to be clean and sanitary prior to the start of operations. 9 CFR416.2(e)(1) compliance exists.
  • During operations, the official establishment washes equipment and utensils as necessary in a three-compartment sink.  The back-flow device on the sink drain pipe empties onto the floor.  Soapy water flows 8 feet across the floor to the drain located under a table where raw not ground meat is prepared.  The condition is less than perfect but that would not represent 9 CFR 416.2(e)(4) noncompliance because product cannot be contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health as a result of water flowing across the floor.

9 CFR 416.2(e)(5) and 9 CFR 416.2(e)(6) are proscriptive.  Back-flow conditions exist, or they don’t.  Cross-connection between potable and non-potable piping systems exist, or they don’t.  Sewer gas is backed up or is isn’t.  FSIS interprets the presence of these conditions as synonymous with conditions whereby product may be contaminated with filth or rendered injurious to health.  

9 CFR 416.2(e)(5) and 9 CFR 416.2(e)(6) noncompliance are uncommon, but noncompliance with serious consequences can occur in official establishments built or renovated before municipalities got serious about enforcing modern building codes.  The following scenario really happened.

  • The original owner of an official establishment retired after 2000 and sold the business.  The new owner of applied for a grant of inspection. FSIS disapproved the application for the grant of inspection because the fire suppression system drew water from both potable and non-potable plumbing systems.  The new owner had to eliminate the cross connection before FSIS would issue a grant of inspection.  How could that happen?
  • The official establishment came under federal inspection when the federal meat inspection sanitation regulations [9 CFR 8.3] permitted cross connections between non-potable and potable water supply for fire protection.  When FSIS implemented 9 CFR 416.2(e)(5)in 1999, FSIS did not require the owner to eliminate the cross connection.

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Michael Fisher

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

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