The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has submitted a revised petition for meat regulators to declare certain strains of Salmonella as adulterants, making it illegal to sell food contaminated with these bacteria and allowing the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to recall or hold the food from commerce. Earlier this summer, FSIS denied the consumer advocate group’s 2011 petition to have strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella found in ground meat and poultry to be declared adulterants. Agency officials said at the time that they needed more data in order to make a determination. On Wednesday, CSPI filed a new petition that provides additional “factual and legal support” and expands their request to include antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella Hadar, Salmonella Heidelberg, Salmonella Newport and Salmonella Typhimurium in all meat and poultry products. They also ask that FSIS set up sampling and testing to monitor for the presence of the pathogens in raw meat and poultry products. There are two aspects of declaring an adulterant that are at play in the conversation. One is that it be an added substance and the other is that it’s “injurious to health.” The petition claims antibiotic-resistant Salmonella is an added substance because its increasing prevalence is due to the use of antibiotics on farms, but provides additional information to support a finding that it would be an adulterant even if it were not an added substance. Because antibiotic-resistant microbes can be present in animals even if they haven’t been exposed to antibiotics, FSIS requested more data on how much the administration of antibiotics contributes to the presence of resistant Salmonella in ground meat and poultry. When it comes to the “injurious” standard, the petition states that, “Patients stricken with antibiotic-resistant illnesses often suffer longer and more extreme forms of illness, increased likelihood of hospitalizations and serious side effects from alternative drugs needed to treat them.” CSPI also cites 19 outbreaks related to strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in beef, pork and poultry that caused 2,358 illnesses, 424 hospitalizations and eight deaths. They also list six FSIS recalls since 2009 for products contaminated with antibiotic-resistant Salmonella to show that the agency sometimes treats the strains as injurious to health. The increasing number of outbreaks opposes FSIS’ assertion that ordinary cooking is good enough to kill the pathogens, CSPI says. When FSIS denied the 2011 petition, the agency stated that, in the context of E. coli strains that have been declared adulterants, consumers sometimes consider ground beef cooked rare, medium-rare or medium to be properly cooked even though it hasn’t reached a high-enough internal temperature to kill off the pathogen. But for Salmonella, the agency said it was not aware of data to suggest that consumers think ground poultry, pork or lamb is properly cooked if it is less than “well-done.” In the new petition, CSPI responded with studies addressing the agency’s questions on consumer handling, cooking practices, virulence, infectious dose and heat resistance. “The Foster Farms outbreaks should have served as a wake-up call to USDA, but the agency keeps hitting the snooze button,” said CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal. “USDA should be testing for antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella to keep contaminated foods out of grocery stores — just as it now can do for the most dangerous strains of E. coli. Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella is no less dangerous and kills twice as many Americans each year.” CSPI asks that FSIS be granted an expedited review since it would be immediately beneficial for public health. The group stated that such a move is “particularly warranted, as consumers have already waited over three years for the response to the CSPI 2011 petition that FSIS denied without prejudice on July 31, 2014.”