The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service announced it will declare Salmonella as an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products.
“Food safety is at the heart of everything,” says Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. “This is an important first step in launching a broader initiative to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry in the U.S.”
By declaring Salmonella an adulterant in these products, FSIS will be able to ensure highly contaminated products that could make people sick aren’t sold to consumers.
Since 1988, breaded and stuffed raw chicken products have been associated with up to 14 outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses. Those products include frozen chicken cordon bleu or chicken Kiev. They appeared to be cooked but were only heat treated to set the batter or breading. The poultry was still raw. These products will be adulterated when exceeding a small contamination threshold and be subject to regulatory action.
The National Chicken Council (NCC) responded to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service plan to declare salmonella an adulterant in frozen, raw, breaded, stuffed chicken products. Dr. Ashley Peterson, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, says they recognize the special nature of the products that appear ready to eat but contain raw chicken.
“The NCC and our member companies have invested millions of dollars and worked for over ten years to develop and refine the best practices to reduce Salmonella and protect public health,” Peterson says.
The NCC points out that it’s concerned about the precedent set by this abrupt shift in long-standing policy, which was made without supporting data for a product category associated with one outbreak since 2015.
“We believe FSIS already has the ability to ensure the continued safety of these products,” Peterson says. “There’s no magic bullet for food safety, so we employ a multi-stage strategy.”
(From the National Association of Farm Broadcasters)