October 16, 2017

CSPI Urges USDA to Prohibit Antibiotic-Resistant Salmonella

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is once again urging the USDA to prohibit antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in ground meat and poultry, extending a campaign started earlier this year.

Salmonella bacteriaIn a statement published this week by CSPI Food Safety Staff Attorney Sarah Klein, she notes the current Hannaford supermarket chain outbreak in which at least 16 consumers in seven states are sick from antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Typhimurium in ground beef. The CDC is investigating the infections, acknowledging the increased risk of hospitalization and possible treatment failure in case patients because the bacteria is resistant to some common antibiotics.

Hannaford has recalled all of its house-label ground beef with sell by dates prior to December 17, but it’s unclear who supplied the beef cuts and trim that the company made into hamburger because the supermarket chain did not keep comprehensive grinding logs, according to USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

“FSIS says it is developing regulations to require better record keeping by retailers who grind beef—but that process can take years and consumers cannot afford to wait,” Klein said. “Retailers must be responsible for keeping track of where beef is coming from so that they can assist FSIS and consumers with timely traceback during an outbreak investigation.”

Meanwhile, dangerous strains of Salmonella in meat are making foodborne illnesses harder to treat, says CSPI. The nonprofit food safety watchdog group wants the USDA to declare four such strains as “adulterants” under federal law, making products that contain them illegal to sell.

E. coli O157:H7 already holds that status when present in ground beef. The declaration would trigger enhanced testing and could minimize their entry into commerce. “Adulterant” status also would fortify consumers’ rights in foodborne illness litigation stemming from outbreaks.

CSPI’s petition, launched in May 2011, covers four types of Salmonella: Heidelberg, Newport, Hadar, and Typhimurium. They have all been linked to outbreaks.

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