July 15, 2024

House Bill Would Ban Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: FSIS Responds

This week, House members Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced a bill that would ban antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella such as those that have sickened more than 600 people in the ongoing Foster Farms chicken outbreak. The bill would require the USDA to recall meat, poultry, or egg products that are contaminated with bacteria resistant to two or more critically important antibiotics or with bacteria or other pathogens that cause serious illness or death. The bill names Salmonella and Campylobacter as pathogens.

Salmonella photoDespite Foster Farms products sickening so many people (at least 17,000 with the multiplier), no recall has ever been issued from Foster Farms or the USDA. Seven strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella Heidelberg are present in the contaminated chicken. The USDA will only issue a recall if a meat, poultry, or egg product is “adulterated”, which is a term some believe is vaguely defined in current law.

USDA’s FSIS responded to this action, stating that its implementation of its Salmonella Action Plan is sufficient. An FSIS spokesperson emailed Meatingplace.com and told them that “FSIS will continue to work aggressively in preventing foodborne illness, including implementing the first ever performance standards for Salmonella in chicken parts and ground poultry later this year.”

Seven strains of E. coli bacteria are banned in ground beef. Adding Salmonella and Campylobacter in chickens to this list would mean that it would be illegal to sell those products if they are contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

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