Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) have released a statement on the USDA’s finalization of new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings. They are critical of the standards since they do not declare Salmonella as an adulterant.
The statement from Congresswoman DeLauro reads, in part, “while the new federal standards announced by the USDA are progress in fighting foodborne illness, implementing these standards alone is not enough to keep American consumers safe. The USDA should immediately declare Salmonella as an adulterant as part of their work to protect consumers and reduce public health threats.”
Congresswoman Slaughter said in a statement, “the USDA may have updated their rules, but the public’s health is still at risk. Under the new finalized rule, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service will allow potential disease in poultry products that risk the health of the American people. Salmonella and Campylobacter are known disease-causing bacteria and the new rule guarantees they will continue to be present in processed chicken and turkey products compounded by the fact that some poultry processing plants have line speeds of 175 birds per minute.”
There are at least 360,000 illnesses every year attributed to regulated products. Last year, both women reintroduced the Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act, which would give the USDA authority to issue recalls for meat, poultry, and egg products. At this time, a recall is only issued if a product is considered “adulterated”, which has an ambiguous definition.
Salmonella outbreaks linked to chicken products are nothing new. In the last few years, Salmonella outbreaks linked to recalled Barber Foods frozen raw stuffed chicken breasts, recalled Aspen Foods frozen raw stuffed chicken breasts, and Foster Farms raw chicken products have sickened hundreds of Americans in the past few years. In the frozen foods outbreak, some of those sickened stated to investigators that they prepared the food as the package directs and tested the final temperature with a food thermometer, but they still got sick. In the Foster Farms outbreak, some people were sickened after eating Foster Farms products that were professionally cooked in delis.