January 16, 2018

USDA Announces New Efforts to Improve Poultry Product Safety

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced this week new steps to protect American consumers by improving food safety plans required for poultry facilities. Companies making raw ground chicken and turkey and similar products must reassess their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans. This must occur in the next 90 days.

Raw whole chickenThe new plans must account for several Salmonella outbreaks that happened recently that were associated with those products. USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elisabeth Hagen said, “HACCP reassessments improve a company’s ability to identify hazards and better prevent foodborne illness. Incorporating information obtained from Salmonella outbreaks will enhance food safety efforts, helping to avoid future outbreaks and ensure a safer food supply for consumers.”

FSIS is going to expand the Salmonella verification sampling program to include other raw comminuted poultry products in addition to ground poultry. Comminuted products are solid materials reduced in size by crushing and grinding. In addition, the sample size for lab analysis will be increased from 25 grams to 325 grams to provide consistency. Finally, sampling will be conducted to determine the prevalence of Salmonella in not-ready-to-eat comminuted poultry products. Those results will be used to develop new performance standards.

Two outbreaks in 2011 sickened hundreds of consumers. A Salmonella Hadar outbreak in early 2011 was associated with Jenny-O turkey burgers. An investigation revealed problems in the company’s production process, and cooking instructions were found to be inadequate to kill the bacteria. Also in 2011, ground turkey from Cargill Meat Solutions was linked with a multistate Salmonella Heidelberg outbreak. The outbreak strain of the bacteria was found in poultry products and the plant environment.

HACCP plans are designed to reduce pathogen contamination of food products by adding safety measures at certain production points. You can comment on this proposed policy notice at Regulations.gov. The comment period ends March 6, 2013.

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