July 19, 2018

USDA New Measures to Reduce Contamination in Poultry

Yesterday, the USDA proposed new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination in ground chicken, ground turkey, and raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings. These standards are part of FSIS' Salmonella Action Plan that was launched in December 2013. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said, "Today, we are taking specific aim at making the poultry items that Americans most often purchase safer to eat. This is a meaningful, targeted step that could prevent tens of thousands of illnesses each year." According to Consumer's Union, 71% of store-bought chicken is contaminated with pathogenic bacteria. And 8% of those products are contaminated with both Campylobacter and Salmonella. Government studies have found that 25% of cut up chicken, and about 50% of ground … [Read more...]

Campylobacter Uses Chicken “Juice” to Form Biofilms

A new study by the Institute of Food Research has shown how the bacteria Campylobacter uses "chicken juice" to persist in the food chain, attaching to surfaces and forming biofilms that make it more impervious to cleaning. Helen Brown, a Ph.D. student at the Institute, led the study. Scientists collected liquids produced from defrosting chickens, and found that Campylobacter used those liquids to form biofilms just like Salmonella bacteria, which are special structures that help the bacteria protect the colony from environmental threats. Brown said in a statement, "we have discovered that this increase in biofilm formation was due to chicken juice coating the surfaces we used with a protein-rich film. This film then makes it much easier for the Campylobacter bacteria to attach to the … [Read more...]

Antioch Farms Raw Chicken Linked to MN Salmonella Outbreak

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) has announced that six people have been sickened with Salmonella food poisoning after eating Antioch Farms raw, frozen, breaded and pre-browned stuffed chicken breast entrees. Consumers got sick in August and September 2014 from the same strain of Salmonella Enteritidis. One person has been hospitalized. Dr. Carlota Medus, epidemiologist for the Foodborne Diseases Unit at the Minnesota Department of Health said in a statement, "our DNA fingerprinting found that the individuals were sickened by the same strain of Salmonella. The Minnesota Department of Agriculture collected samples of the same type of product from grocery stores and the outbreak strain of Salmonella was found in packages of this product." The product is Antioch Farms brand … [Read more...]

Study Identifies Risky Home Food Safety Practices

A new study at UC-Davis has identified many risky practices of consumers in their homes. The study looked at the preparation of raw poultry. The two most common mistakes were cross contamination and insufficient cooking. Christine Bruhn, director of the Center for consumer research at the university, who authored the study said in a statement, "the most surprising aspect of these findings to me was the prevalence of undercooking. We are now in summer, the peak season for foodborne illness, and these results come at a time when more consumers can benefit from being aware of better food safety practices." Those good practices include always washing hands with soap and water before cooking and after handling raw meat, poultry and eggs, never rinsing poultry in the sink, and always using … [Read more...]

Swiss Study Finds Raw Chicken in Hospitals has E. coli

A study published in Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology, a publication of the Society for Healthcare epidemiology of America, found that more than 80% of raw chicken that enters the hospital food supply is contaminated with E. coli bacteria. The study tested raw chicken delivered to the central hospital kitchen at the University Hospital of Geneva in Switzerland. The bacteria is a new antibiotic resistant form called extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL) that produces E. coli. Dr. Andrew Stewardson, the lead author of the study said in a statement, "while a high proportion of chicken contaminated by antibiotic resistant E. coli  is a significant concern, robust food safety measures taken by hospital kitchen staff are able to prevent the spread of these pathogens and minimize … [Read more...]

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. There 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 … [Read more...]

Food & Water Watch Skewers USDA Again on Salmonella Plans

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch, has responded to USDA's claims that their email telling inspectors to not interfere with industry collection of Salmonella data was appropriate. In a statement she said that, "what was troubling about the email was that it told the district managers that the purpose of the data collection was for the industry to develop its own voluntary pathogen performance standards that it was going to enforce on poultry processing plants. It went on to say that FSIS inspection personnel assigned to the plants were not to interfere with the National Chicken Council data collection and that they had no right to look at the data that was collected. "In other words, the poultry industry would create the standards for pathogen levels in … [Read more...]

USDA Tells Staff Not to Interfere with Poultry Industry Voluntary Pathogen Reduction Effort

Food & Water Watch has obtained an internal email by the USDA regarding a new data collection effort by the National Chicken Council. According to the email, The National Chicken Council is spearheading an effort to "collect samples from chicken parts from most all poultry establishments in order to collectively work on voluntary pathogen reduction performance goals that the industry will self-impose using their own industry-wide aggregate data."   The email, dated January 17, 2014 and sent to USDA-FSIS district managers, states that the USDA approves of the National Chicken Council effort and does not want in-plant USDA-FSIS inspectors and field supervisors to question this effort or to take steps to force poultry processing plants to turn over the results of the sampling. … [Read more...]

Chicken Safety and Cross-Contamination Issues in Restaurants

A study published in the Journal of Food Protection has found there is a big problem in restaurants and chicken preparation. The study found that many restaurants do not follow the FDA Food Code guidance about cross-contamination prevention and proper cooking, and that managers do not have the basic food safety knowledge about chicken. Forty percent of managers said they "never, rarely, or only sometimes designate certain cutting boards for raw meat." One-third of managers said they did not wash and rinse surfaces before sanitizing them. Over half of managers said thermometers weren't used to determine the final internal temperature of chicken. And more than 50% of managers did not know the safe final internal temperature of cooked chicken. Finally, more than half of the managers rinsed … [Read more...]

Don’t Want Chicken from China? Sign the Petition!

Food & Water Watch has been speaking out against the USDA's decision to allow poultry products processed in China to be sold in the U.S. The USDA has admitted that China's poultry slaughter program is not equivalent to the U.S. program, so chickens raised in China cannot be exported to the U.S. But the American government is considering letting the Chinese food industry process chickens raised elsewhere. The plan will save agribusiness money, since processing costs are lower in China. But since there will be no U.S. inspectors in China watching the processing process, there's no guarantee the Chinese companies won't use Chinese-raised chickens. The poultry that's cooked and processed in China will not be labeled as such, because of a loophole in the country of origin labeling rules. … [Read more...]

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