USDA aims to slash foodborne illness with new poultry standards

By Guy Montague-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Foodborne illness Salmonella

The US federal government has introduced new standards on Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry with the aim of eliminating 65,000 foodborne illnesses a year.

The new inspection rules, which refer to young chickens and turkeys, require companies to reduce the percentage of samples testing positive for a given pathogen to a certain level.

They are the first such standards to be introduced for Campylobacter, and the first revision to the Salmonella standards for chicken since 1996 and for turkeys since the first standards were set in 2005.

Illness reduction goals

After 2 years under the new standards, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) estimates that the new Campylobacter standards will prevent 39,000 illnesses each year while the revised Salmonella standards are expected to result in 26,000 fewer illnesses.

By the end of 2010 the goal is that 90 percent of all poultry establishments will meet the revised Salmonella standard.

To help the poultry industry achieve these aims, the FSIS has published a compliance guide addressing Salmonella and Campylobacter.

The new standards on Salmonella and Campylobacter were one of the key recommendations of the President’s Food Safety Working Group.

Agriculture secretary Tom Vilsack said: “We are working every day as part of the President's Food Safety Working Group to lower the danger of foodborne illness.”

He hailed the new standards as “an important step”​ in efforts to protect consumers from foodborne illness, adding that they open up “a new front in the fight against Campylobacter.”

In addition to the steps to tackle Salmonella and Campylobacter, the FSIS has released a compliance guide on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E. coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle.

FSIS is seeking comment on the performance standards and two compliance guides. Comments must be received within 60 days. To read more about the compliance guides, please click here.

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