WASHINGTON – New performance standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens (broilers) and turkeys were announced on May 10 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, which he said fulfills another key recommendation of the President's Food Safety Working Group.

Two compliance guides were also released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (F.S.I.S.). One is designed to help the poultry industry address Salmonella and Campylobacter and one compliance guide focuses on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle.

F.S.I.S. estimates that after two years, 39,000 illnesses will be avoided per year under the new Campylobacter standards and 26,000 fewer illnesses each year will be realized under the revised Salmonella standards.

F.S.I.S. announced these 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% of all poultry establishments meeting the revised Salmonella standard by the end of 2010.

F.S.I.S. is seeking comment on the performance standards and two compliance guides announced in the Federal Register Notice. F.S.I.S. expects to begin using the standards after analyzing the comments and, if necessary, making any adjustments.

Comments regarding the compliance guides document must be received within the 60-day comment period through the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, or by mail to: Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Room 2-2127, George Washington Carver Center, 5601 Sunnyside Avenue, Mailstop 5474, Beltsville, MD 20705-5474. All submissions received through the Federal eRulemaking Portal or by mail must reference the Food Safety and Inspection Service and include the docket number "FSIS-2009-0034."