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United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service
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Privacy Policy
Thank you for visiting the FSIS web site and reviewing our privacy statement. To summarize our privacy policy: We will collect no personal information about you when you visit our web site unless you choose to provide that information to us.

Here is how we handle information about your visit to our web site:

Information Collected and Stored Automatically
If you do nothing during your visit but browse through the web site, read pages, or download information, we will gather and store certain information about your visit automatically. This information does not identify you personally. We automatically collect and store:
  1. The Internet domain (for example, "xcompany.com" or "yourschool.edu") and IP address (a number that is automatically assigned to your computer whenever you are surfing the web) from which you access our site;
  2. The type of browser and operating system used to access our site;
  3. The date and time you access our site;
  4. The pages you visit; and
  5. If you linked to the FSIS site from another web site, the address of that web site; and
  6. Search phrases entered into the search box.

We use this information to learn about the number of visitors to our site and the types of technology they are using. This information tells us what content is of most and least interest to our visitors and therefore helps us make our site more useful. We do not track or record information about individuals and their visits.

Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
COPPAleaving this web site applies to the online collection of personal information from children under age 13. USDA complies with COPPA and does not knowingly collect personal information about children.

When you visit some websites, their web servers generate pieces of information known as cookies. Some cookies collect personal information to recognize your computer in the future.

Cookies are small files that web servers place on a user's hard drive that helps a website or service. There are two types of cookies:
  1. Session cookies, also known as transient or per session cookies, serve technical purposes, like providing seamless navigation through USDA.gov. They are stored in temporary memory and are only available during an active browser session. Once you close your browser, the cookie disappears.
  2. Persistent cookies, also known as permanent or stored cookies, are used to collect identifying information about the user, such as user name, web surfing behavior or user preference for a specific website. These cookies operate until they expire or a user deletes them.

USDA may use both types of cookies to improve our online services to you.

You can disable cookies by adjusting the setting on your web browser.

If You Send Us Personal Information
If you choose to provide us with personal information, as in an email to the webmaster, FOIA officer, or other FSIS office or employee, we use that information to respond to your message and to help us locate the information you have requested.

Web-based Forms
If you complete a publication order form, we use that information only to fulfill your publication request.

If you register for a meeting on our web site, we use that information internally to plan that meeting and similar future events.

If you submit a complaint using our web-based Consumer Complaint Form, the information you provide is used to help FSIS analysts identify and respond to consumer food safety issues. Such information typically includes first name, last name, address, phone number, email address, and details of the complaint. Details of the complaint can include medical symptoms and medical treatment obtained, as well as information about the origin of the food item under consideration. Complainants retain the right to report a complaint anonymously and can decide not to provide information, but they do not have the option to determine how we use the information that is provided for investigative purposes.

Electronic Mail
We treat email messages the same way that we regard letters sent to the Food Safety and Inspection Service.
  1. We are required to maintain many documents under the Presidential Records Act for historical purposes, but we do not collect personal information for any purpose other than to respond to you.
  2. We share the information you give us with another government agency only if your inquiry relates to that agency, or as otherwise required by law.
  3. We do not create individual customer profiles with the information you provide or give it to any private organizations.
  4. FSIS does not collect information for commercial marketing.

We recommend that you do not include sensitive personal information (for example, Social Security or account numbers) when sending email to FSIS.

If You Submit Comments on a Draft Document or Agency Issuance
If you have provided comments to FSIS in the past regarding a Federal Register Notice or proposed rule, those comments are available for viewing on our site in their entirety, including any personal contact information.

Currently, comments on agency issuances are being uploaded to the Regulations.GOV portal. FSIS will provide links from our site to view the comments submitted to Regulations.GOV. The Privacy and Use Policy leaving this web site explains how the information you submit will be used by Regulations.GOV.

Sometimes FSIS requests feedback outside the realm of formal notice-and-comment rulemaking. For example, FSIS periodically asks for comments on draft Compliance Guidelines. All comments received in response to such requests will be made available for public inspection in the FSIS Docket Room and posted, without change, including any personal information, to the web site.

Links to Other Sites
Our web site has links to many other federal agencies. In a few cases we link to private organizations, with their permission (for example, iTunes feeds for podcasts). Once you access another site through a link that we provide, you are subject to the privacy policy of the new site.

When you are on the FSIS web site, the domain name will end in .GOV. It will generally begin with http://www.fsis.usda.gov. There are a few exceptions.
  1. If you subscribe to our email subscription service, your email address and subscription choices will be maintained at https://public.govdelivery.com. Email messages will come from usfsis@govdelivery.com. The message itself will include in the footer, "This email was sent...using GovDelivery, on behalf of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture."
  2. If you use askFSIS to ask an inspection-related question, the web address will begin with http://askfsis.custhelp.com. This service is provided on behalf of FSIS by RightNow Technologies, Inc.
  3. If you use Ask Karen (or its Spanish-language equivalent) to ask a food safety question, the web address will begin with http://askkaren.custhelp.com (or http://preguntaleakaren.custhelp.com. This service is provided on behalf of FSIS by RightNow Technologies, Inc.
  4. When using the electronic consumer complaint form, you may see the domain name https://ccms.fsis.usda.gov.

More Information on Vendor-Provided Services
As noted, FSIS does offer some web site services through third parties.
  1. To use our email subscription service, you will need to provide an email address. No other information is collected. You may password protect your account.
  2. You may use the askFSIS question-and-answer tool anonymously. However, if you wish to receive a personalized reply, you will need to create a password-protected account by providing user ID, password, email address, first and last name, and customer type. (See the Submit a Question tab at http://askfsis.custhelp.com for details.)
  3. You may use the Ask Karen question-and-answer tool anonymously. However, if you wish to receive a personalized reply, you will need to provide an email address. (See the Submit a Question tab at http://askkaren.custhelp.com for details.)

As with any information you provide to FSIS, this information is secure and is used only to respond to your request.

Social Media (USDA.gov Policy)
The USDA uses third-party services such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to communicate and interact with the public. You may encounter these services as separate websites (for example, the USDA Facebook page, leaving this web site or as applications embedded within the USDA's websites. These services are controlled and operated by third parties, and are not government websites or applications. By interacting with USDA through these third-party services, you may be providing non-government third parties access to your personal information which can be used to distinguish or trace your identity. Any information collected by a third-party service is subject to the privacy policies of the third-party service provider. These third-party services may, for example, use persistent (multi-session) cookies.

Generally, USDA does not collect, disseminate, or maintain any personally identifiable information about you maintained by third-party sites. However, you should be aware that USDA may read, review, or rely upon information that you make publicly available for the USDA on these services (for example, comments made on the USDA's Facebook page), as authorized or required by law.

Please note that these third-party services supplement USDA's traditional communication and outreach efforts. Should you have concerns about communicating with USDA via these channels, please use traditional channels to contact us.

Web Site Security
For site security purposes and to ensure that this service remains available to all users, this government computer system employs software programs to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts to upload or change information, or otherwise cause damage.

Except for authorized law enforcement investigations, no other attempts are made to identify individual users or their usage habits. Raw data logs are used for no other purposes and are scheduled for regular destruction in accordance with National Archives and Records Administration General Schedule 20.

Unauthorized attempts to upload information or change information on this service are strictly prohibited and may be punishable under applicable Federal laws.

Comments or Questions
If you have any comments or questions about the information presented here please forward them to fsis.webmaster@usda.gov.

Last Modified: October 1, 2012



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