USDA proposes new measure to reduce food poisoning from poultry products
The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has proposed new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products as well as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings.
The USDA said development of these new standards was “a major step” in FSIS’ Salmonella Action Plan, launched in December 2013 to reduce Salmonella illnesses from meat and poultry products.
There were 1,027,561 cases of salmonella poisoning in the US in 2013, costing the country more than $3.6 billion.
A pathogen reduction performance standard is the measure that FSIS currently uses to assess the food safety performance of facilities that prepare meat and poultry products. By making the standards for ground poultry tougher to meet, FSIS said ground poultry products nationwide would have less contamination and therefore result in fewer foodborne illnesses.
FSIS implemented performance standards for whole chickens in 1996 but has since learned that Salmonella levels increase as chicken is further processed into parts. Poultry parts like breasts, wings and others represent 80 per cent of the chicken available for Americans to purchase. By creating a standard for chicken parts, and by performing regulatory testing at a point closer to the final product, FSIS said it could “greatly reduce consumer exposure to Salmonella and Campylobacter”.
FSIS’ science-based risk assessment estimates that implementation of these standards would lead to an average of 50,000 prevented illnesses annually. FSIS intends to evaluate comments for 60 days and announce final standards and an implementation date in the Northern Hemisphere’s spring.
Proposed standard for chicken parts
For chicken parts, ground chicken, and ground turkey, FSIS is proposing a pathogen reduction performance standard designed to achieve at least a 30 per cent reduction in illnesses from Salmonella.
For chicken parts, ground chicken, and ground turkey, FSIS is proposing a pathogen reduction performance standard designed to reduce illness from Campylobacter by at least 19 per cent and as much as 37 per cent.
FSIS said it planned to use routine sampling throughout the year rather than infrequently sampling on consecutive days to assess whether establishments’ processes are effectively addressing Salmonella and, where applicable, Campylobacter on poultry carcasses and other products derived from these carcasses.
“Today, we are taking specific aim at making the poultry items that Americans most often purchase safer to eat,” said Tom Vilsack, US Agriculture Secretary. “This is a meaningful, targeted step that could prevent tens of thousands of illnesses each year,” he said.