September 24, 2021

Consumer Advocates Call for Modernization of Poultry Food Safety

Consumer advocates, food poisoning survivors, scientists, and four major poultry producers are calling for the modernization of poultry food safety to reduce illnesses, according to Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). These groups want to meet with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to discuss a “modernized, science-based regulatory approach to ensure the food safety of poultry products.”

Consumer Advocates Call for Modernization of USDA Poultry Rule

The four poultry products are Butterball, Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, and Wayne Farms. The four consumer groups are CSPI, Consumer Federation of American, Consumer Reports, and Stop Foodborne Illness.

Campylobacter and Salmonella infections make up 705 of the foodborne illnesses tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Those pathogens are commonly found on poultry. The government set targets for decreased Salmonella and Campylobacter infections as part of its Healthy People 2020 goals which were related in 2010, but did not meet those targets; the numbers remained the same.

The letter sent to Vilsack reads, “While progress on reducing foodborne illness has been at a standstill, scientific knowledge of Salmonella has greatly increased and recognized best practices for Campylobacter and other pathogens has advanced. Science tells us that current performance standards do not effectively target the particular types of Salmonella and the levels of bacteria that pose the greatest risks of illness, and the overall regulatory framework does not adequately harness modern tools for preventing and verifying control of the bacteria that are making people sick.”

And CSPI deputy director of regulatory affairs Sarah Sorscher said in a statement, “When the federal government fails to meet its own goals for reducing the incidence of foodborne illness, it’s clear that a new approach is needed.”

So far this year there have been two multistate food poisoning outbreaks linked to poultry products. The first is the Tyson precooked chicken Listeria monocytogenes outbreak that sickened three people and hospitalized three, and the second is the Salmonella Enteritidis outbreak linked to Kirkwood raw breaded stuffed chicken products that has sickened at least 28 people.

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