April 21, 2018

Members of Congress Ask USDA to Delay Salmonella Plan

Several members of Congress sent a letter this month to the USDA, asking for a delay in the Salmonella Action Plan that Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is going to implement. The Plan’s first provision is the implementation of poultry slaughter modernization, known as HIMP. The letter states that “considering the paucity of data and lack of comprehensive, external peer review, we are not convinced that this plan will either reduce Salmonella infection or promote public health.”

Chicken carcass on lineThe HACCP Inspection Models Project (HIMP) has been running for 15 years. So far, no data collected suggests that the project has created any reduction in foodborne pathogens at all. And there is no mandate for microbial testing for Salmonella and Campylobacter in the plan, the only part of the Project that has shown results.

The report issued by the CDC last year titled “Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States” shows that 2 million Americans are sickened with antibiotic resistant bacteria every year, resulting in 23,000 deaths. Salmonella and Campylobacter are in the “serious” category in that report. HIMP must include “direct provisions to reduce the amounts of these pathogens in our food supply, not simply leave it to industry to set its own standards,” according to the letter, which the program does not at this time.┬áThe letter also addresses increases in line speeds, which do not promote food safety, public health, or the health of employees working in poultry slaughter plants.

The signers of the letter want to see the USDA assess each proposed change in the Salmonella Action Plan independently and scientifically. They want to see the microbial testing results in HIMP made public, and see system-wide requirements for Salmonella and Campylobacter testing implemented. And they want to see the USDA to implement its own performance standards on chicken parts instead of waiting for industry to issue their own.

The letter is signed by these Representatives: Louise Slaughter (D- NY, Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), Jim Moran (D-VA), Madeline Bordallo (Guam), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Joe Courtney (D-CT), Henry Waxman (D-CA), Julia Brownley (D-CA), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), and Steve Cohen (D-TN).

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