USDA finalizes pathogen reduction standards for poultry parts

by Erica Shaffer
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Poultry parts account for 80 percent of the poultry available to consumers.

WASHINGTON – The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the US Dept. of Agriculture has finalized new measures aimed at reducing the presence of Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken, chicken parts and turkey products. FSIS said the new standards will prevent an estimated 50,000 illnesses annually.

For chicken parts, ground chicken and ground turkey, the pathogen reduction performance standard requires at least a 30 percent reduction in illnesses from Salmonella. For chicken parts and ground chicken, the standard is designed to achieve at least a 32 percent reduction in illnesses from Campylobacter. The reduction for ground turkey product is estimated to be 19 percent because the prevalence for Campylobacter in ground turkey already is low, FSIS said.

Pathogen levels increase as chicken is processed into parts. FSIS believes that making standards for ground poultry and poultry parts tougher to meet will result in less contamination and fewer foodborne illnesses. Poultry parts account for 80 percent of the poultry available to consumers.

“Over the past seven years, USDA has put in place tighter and more strategic food safety measures than ever before for meat and poultry products,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement. “We have made strides in modernizing every aspect of food safety inspection, from company record keeping, to labeling requirements, to the way we perform testing in our labs.

“These new standards, in combination with greater transparency about poultry companies’ food safety performance and better testing procedures, will help prevent tens of thousands of foodborne illnesses every year, reaching our Healthy People 2020 goals,” Vilsack added.

FSIS proposed the new standards in 2015 and followed up with routine sampling throughout year rather than infrequent sampling on consecutive days to assess processors’ effectiveness at addressing Salmonella and Campylobacter. FSIS will begin posting online which facilities pass, meet or fail the new standards once processors complete a full set of testing under the new standards, the agency said.

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