Small poultry, meat, and processed egg product businesses, do you know there is a free resource out there to help you negotiate/understand food safety concerns and other USDA-related topics? Since 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has been operating a Help Desk for small operators.

One can either call the Help Desk at 1-877-FSISHELP (1-877-374-7435) or email the help desk at: [email protected] . Those using the Help Desk can expect that:

“FSIS staff will assess callers' requests and provide information and guidance materials that best meet their needs. In situations where the answer is not readily available, the staff will research the issue and follow-up with the caller. As appropriate, the help-desk will provide a portal to other services, such as AskFSIS, FSIS' existing internet service offering official agency responses to inquiries on agency policy.”

Whether asking questions about federal regulations or searching out best practices, the Help Desk is meant to be an open forum for small operators to reach out to for the assistance they may need. As one Help Desk source described, “They are not there to pass judgement---their goal is to understand your issue and do what they can to help you resolve it.”

To learn more about the Help Desk and to access a collection of resources directed at small operations, click here.