USDA to revamp Salmonella prevention efforts
The USDA will seek feedback from the industry on current Salmonella control measures and will look to build on the latest science to reduce the number of Americans infected with Salmonella each year.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced that it is mobilising “a stronger, and more comprehensive effort to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry products.” The agency says it is initiating several key activities to gather the data and information necessary to support future action and move closer to the national target of a 25 percent reduction in Salmonella illnesses.
“Far too many consumers become ill every year from poultry contaminated by Salmonella,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
“We need to be constantly evolving in our efforts to prevent foodborne illness to stay one step ahead of the bad bugs. Today we’re taking action to help prevent Salmonella contamination throughout the poultry supply chain and production system to protect public health.”
Despite consistent reductions in the occurrence of Salmonella in poultry products, more than one million consumer illnesses due to Salmonella occur annually, and it is estimated that over 23 percent of those illnesses are due to consumption of chicken and turkey.
“Reducing Salmonella infections attributable to poultry is one of the Department’s top priorities,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary Sandra Eskin, who is leading the initiative. “Time has shown that our current policies are not moving us closer to our public health goal. It’s time to rethink our approach.”
USDA intends to seek stakeholder feedback on specific Salmonella control and measurement strategies, including pilot projects, in poultry slaughter and processing establishments. The department says a key component of this approach is encouraging preharvest controls to reduce Salmonella contamination coming into the slaughterhouse. The data generated from these pilots will be used to determine if a different approach could result in a reduction of Salmonella illness in consumers.
Meanwhile, the National Advisory Committee for Microbiological Criteria in Foods, an independent federal advisory committee, will be asked to advise on how FSIS can build on the latest science to improve its approach to Salmonella control.
Since it is not just the presence or absence of Salmonella, but the quantity of bacteria that can impact the likelihood of illness, FSIS will examine how quantification can be incorporated into this approach. Moreover, with emerging science suggesting that not all Salmonella are equally likely to cause human illness, FSIS will focus on the Salmonella serotypes and the virulence factors that pose the greatest public health risk.