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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

USDA Announces New Performance Standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter for Chickens and Turkeys in the middle of a Non-E. coli O157:H7 Outbreak

From a USDA /FSIS press release:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced new performance standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens (broilers) and turkeys, fulfilling another key recommendation of the President’s Food Safety Working Group. USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) also released a compliance guide to help the poultry industry address Salmonella and Campylobacter and a compliance guide on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle.

The standards announced today are the first-ever standards for Campylobacter, and mark the first revision to the Salmonella standards for chicken since 1996 and for turkeys since the first standards were set in 2005. The performance standards set a level in percentage of samples testing positive for a given pathogen an establishment must achieve and play a key role in reducing the prevalence of foodborne pathogens and preventing harm to consumers. The President’s Food Safety Working Group has set a goal of having 90 percent of all poultry establishments meeting the revised Salmonella standard by the end of 2010.

Today’s announcement builds on the series of steps to enhance food safety taken by USDA over the past year as part of the Food Safety Working Group, including:

  • Launching an initiative to cut down E. coli O157:H7 contamination including stepped-up meat facility inspections by starting the testing of additional components of ground beef, and issuing new instructions to inspectors asking that they verify that plants follow sanitary practices in processing beef carcasses.

  • Appointing a chief medical officer within USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to coordinate human health issues within USDA and FSIS and build bridges with the public health community and senior leaders throughout the federal, state and local sectors to establish a consistent approach and heighten food safety awareness.

  • Issuing consolidated, more effective field instructions on how to inspect for E. coli O157:H7 contamination.

  • Continuing to develop the Public Health Information System (PHIS) to help the Agency more rapidly and accurately identify trends, patterns and anomalies in data and thus allow us to more efficiently, effectively and rapidly protect public health.

Perhaps its also time to consider – Petition for an Interpretive Rule Declaring all enterohemorrhagic Shiga Toxin-producing Serotypes of Escherichia coli (E. coli), Including Non-O157 Serotypes, to be Adulterants Within the Meaning of 21 U.S.C. § 601(m)(1)?  Because, as I said before, the USDA should declare that all illness causing shiga-toxin producing E. coli are adulterants and ban them from the meat supply.

  • Dr Raymond

    The appointed chief medical officer has been underground since it was announce four months ago that she was the President’s choice to be the next Undersecretary. The Salmonella intitiative that was announced during the Bush Administration in 2006 has lowered the rate of positive chicken carcass rinses from 18% to 6 %. The next logical step of the initiative was to be lowering the percent positive allowed as a new standard. And the Campy work to establish a standard was also initiated under the previous Admin. as was the development of the PHIS. I know I am overly sensitive, but to see the WHFSWG try and claim credit for this and everything else just irritates me even though I should be used to it by now.