New rules for Salmonella in US
The United States takes action against Salmonella as it announces plans to declare it an adulterant in breaded stuffed raw chicken products.
Salmonella will soon be named an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products, says the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).
Since 1998, breaded and stuffed raw chicken products have been associated with up to 14 outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses. By declaring Salmonella an adulterant in these products, the FSIS says it will be able to ensure that highly contaminated products, with the potential to make consumers unwell, are not sold to consumers.
Products in this category are found in the freezer section and appear to be cooked, but they are heat-treated only to set the batter or breading. So despite its looks, such items contain raw poultry.
The move follows so far ineffective efforts to help reduce consumer illness through improved labelling.
Salmonella limits in breaded raw chicken
Breaded and stuffed raw chicken products will be considered adulterated when they exceed a very low level of Salmonella contamination and would be subject to regulatory action.
FSIS will be proposing to set the limit at one colony forming unit (CFU) of Salmonella per gram for these products; a level that the agency believes will significantly reduce the risk of illness from consuming these products. The agency will also seek comment on whether a different standard for adulteration – such as zero tolerance or one based on specific serotypes – would be more appropriate.
“Food safety is at the heart of everything FSIS does,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “That mission will guide us as this important first step launches a broader initiative to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry in the US.”
The notice is expected to publish in the Federal Register in the fall and FSIS will be seeking public comments that address what the standard should be, as well as to inform a final implementation plan, including a verification testing programme.
Once published, the notice will be posted in FSIS’ Federal Register & Rulemaking page for review and comment. When the proposal is finalised, FSIS will announce its final implementation plans and the date it will begin routine testing for Salmonella in these products.