WASHINGTON – The Food and Drug Administration has adopted risk-based criteria in its Compliance Policy Guide for animal food contaminated with Salmonella.

The agency's revised guidance recommends that regulatory action be taken when animal feed contaminated with Salmonella serotypes that are known to cause disease in the animal species eating the feed. FDA said different animal species develop disease in response to different Salmonella serotypes. There are more than 2,500 different Salmonella serotypes.

Following the new compliance policy, the agency revoked its advisory opinion from 1967 which established a zero-tolerance policy of Salmonella in food for animals. Under that policy, no Salmonella was allowed in animal food, even if the serotype didn’t make the animals sick.

"FDA considers an animal feed to be adulterated...when it is contaminated with a Salmonella serotype that is considered pathogenic to the animal intended to consume the feed and the animal feed will not subsequently undergo a commercial heat step or other commercial process that will kill the Salmonella," the Compliance Guide states. The guide recommends evaluating cases of contamination with other Salmonella serotypes on a case-by-case basis.

The agency said in its guidance that the likelihood of direct human contact with animal feed is "substantially lower" compared to pet foods. In the case of pet food, FDA believes regulatory action is warranted involving pet foods contaminated with any Salmonella serotype given the likelihood of direct human contact with pet food.