Illnesses up despite less Salmonella on poultry

by Bryan Salvage
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TUCKER, GA. — Dr. Daniel Engeljohn, Food Safety Inspection Service Deputy Administrator in the Office of Policy and Program Development, recently reviewed the agency’s new lower Salmonella performance standards at U.S. Poultry & Egg Association’s 2010 Poultry Processor Workshop.

He emphasized “human health is our primary objective, although we’ve gone in the opposite direction,” he said, acknowledging data showing that human Salmonellosis cases have actually increased in recent years while the presence of Salmonella on raw poultry has decreased.

Mr. Engeljohn said the Obama administration is “focused on improving the food-safety system.”

During the workshop, he summarized the new performance standards for plant management attending the conference and indicated that “most of the poultry industry would already be in compliance.”

Highlights included:

Salmonella:
 Chicken carcasses, post chill: 7.5% (82 % of the industry would meet standard)
 Turkey carcasses, post chill: 1.7% (82% of the industry would meet standard)

Campylobacter:
 Chicken carcasses, post chill: 10.4% for 1-ml portion, and 46.4% for a combination of 1-ml and 30-ml portions (75 % of the industry would meet standard)
 Turkey carcasses, post chill: 1.1% for any combination of 1-ml or 24-ml portions (81% of industry would meet standard)

The new performance standards were scheduled to be published in the Federal Register May 14, with a 60-day comment period. A complete copy of the standards is available on the FSIS website.

Also during the workshop, Dr. Mark Lobstein, USA Poultry & Egg Export Council presented a status report on export markets. Focusing on Russia and China, he said “the handwriting is on the wall — exports are declining. We have not shipped poultry to Russia this year. They say it’s about chlorine, but look at us and our consumption of chicken and our good health. It’s not about chlorine; it’s politics.”

Major potential for poultry exports lies in China and India, Mr. Lobstein said. “There are some current issues with China, but I believe negotiation is possible. Let’s work on those markets” he said.

The program also addressed new processing technology, antimicrobial interventions, rapid micro testing, the changing culture in the workforce and the new era of O.S.H.A. enforcement.

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