F.S.I.S. pursues performance standards for poultry processors

by Bryan Salvage
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WASHINGTON – Studies that will lead to performance standards for Campylobacter are being conducted by U.S.D.A., according to Dr. Daniel Engeljohn, deputy assistant administrator in the office of Policy and Program Development at Food Safety and Inspection Service. Standards for Campylobacter are expected be issued this year.

A baseline study of Campylobacter in broilers was conducted by U.S.D.A. in 2007-2008 and the agency will issue "guideline performance standards" in 2009, Mr. Engeljohn recently said in remarks during a National Chicken Council committee meeting in Arlington, Va. Samples would be taken at re-hang and post-chill with "enumerative criteria" instead of a qualitative, positive-negative finding, he added.

Dr. Engeljohn said the agency will conduct a study of chicken parts this year and next, not just the whole carcass, and establish a "guideline performance standard." He indicated that breast portions will be the top priority.

He also expressed concern about the presence of Salmonella enteriditis in raw broilers. S. enteriditis has historically been associated with table eggs rather than meat chickens. While only 7.4% of broiler carcasses are positive for any type of Salmonella, 18% of those samples have S. enteriditis, he said.

"F.S.I.S. believes that S. enteriditis can be prevented from entering the human food chain through the foods regulated by F.S.I.S.," he said. "On-farm controls are practical and feasible for the adequate control of S. enteriditis. Federally-inspected establishments are expected to address food-safety hazards before, during and after the product enters the facility."

However, there is "no known industry-wide or collective focus" to reduction of S. enteriditis in broilers, Mr. Engeljohn said, and the agency is working on a risk-management plan that will lead to compliance guidelines.

Mr. Engeljohn noted that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that the country had 14.92 cases of salmonellosis per 100,000 population in 2007, which was more than the 13.7 cases per 100,000 population estimated in the baseline year of 1997.

F.S.I.S. estimates, however, that less than one case per 100,000 is attributable to Salmonella in broilers, he said.

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