June 17, 2024

More Salmonella in Chicken Parts Than Whole Chickens

The USDA is saying that Salmonella rates in young chickens have dropped 75% since 2006. But at the same time, rates of Salmonella infections in people that are linked to chicken have not decreased. More than a million Americans are sickened by Salmonella in poultry every year.

Pieces of raw chicken meatThere is a good reason for this: the Salmonella rate is measured on whole chickens, not parts. And more people buy chicken parts, which are more likely to be contaminated, than whole chickens.

The current Salmonella outbreak linked to Foster Farms chickens found that 24% of the chicken parts products were contaminated with at least one strain of Salmonella. That is three times the rate of contamination on whole chickens and equivalent to the over rate of chicken part contamination in the marketplace.

In December 2013, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released a comprehensive strategy to reduce Salmonella in meat and poultry products. At least 1.3 million Americans are sickened by this combination every year. Unfortunately, one way the agency wants to reduce Salmonella is HIMP, a strategy criticized by food safety experts as turning the inspection process over to industry.

HIMP is going to make corporations responsible for providing inspectors instead of the government, will reduce the number of USDA inspectors in every plant, and will increase line speeds for inspecting carcasses up to three times the current rate.

A report last year by the Pew Charitable Trusts found that there are several problems with the USDA overall Salmonella policy regarding chicken. The plan does not include Salmonella performance standards for chicken parts; Salmonella is not considered an adulterant in raw poultry; performance standards are based on national prevalence of the pathogen in a specific product instead of public health impact, and FSIS tests at chicken-slaughter plants only once a year at most.

To properly address this problem, Pew suggests that USDA reconsider its Salmonella performance standards, issue performance standards for chicken parts, conduct unannounced Salmonella testing, and consider establishing limits on contamination for chickens when they enter a slaughterhouse, as opposed to processed chicken. In addition, FSIS should be given mandatory recall authority, and facilities should be closed while under investigation until the problem is fixed.


  1. Jeremy Hammel says

    DJ hit the nail on the head. I’m sure this info will spur the FDA to allow new forms of antibiotics and gmos to take shape in the industry. I know I sound like a conspiracy theorist but at this point, the food industry isn’t going backwards. Thank goodness there are organic choices in my supermarket.

  2. Allowing the chicken industry itself to handle the safety issues, is like letting the ‘rabid’ fox guard the hen house. Even more hazardous to our health. Of course, corporations run our government, so they call the shots in everything else, too. We are so doomed!

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