USDA-FSIS Finalizes New Federal Poultry Standards to Reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter

Feb. 4, 2016 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced the finalization of new federal poultry standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in chicken and turkey products. FSIS estimates that implementation of these new poultry standards will lead to an average of 50,000 prevented illnesses annually.

As part of this move, FSIS is finalizing a pathogen reduction performance standard designed to achieve at least a 30 percent reduction in Salmonella illness from chicken parts, ground chicken, and ground turkey. For chicken parts and ground chicken, FSIS is finalizing a pathogen reduction performance standard designed to achieve at least a 32 percent reduction in illnesses from Campylobacter. Because FSIS has found the prevalence for Campylobacter in ground turkey to be already low, the reduction for this product is estimated to be 19 percent.

FSIS has also updated its microbial testing schedule at poultry facilities, and will soon begin posting more information online about individual companies’ food safety performance.  Since these performance standards were initially proposed in early 2015, FSIS began using routine sampling to assess whether establishments’ processes are effectively addressing Salmonella and Campylobacter. Once establishments have completed a full set of testing under the new standards, the agency will also begin posting online which facilities pass, meet or fail the new standards.

“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. 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,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “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.”

“This approach to poultry inspection is based on science, supported by strong data, and will truly improve public health,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “The new performance standards will complement the many other proactive, prevention-based food policies that we’ve put in place in recent years to make America’s supply of meat and poultry safer to eat.”

For assistance understanding the new standards or implementing same into your business, please contact Ann Marie Gaitan, Esq. at 305.443.8900.