Walmart and Sam’s Club are apparently leaving it to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to talk about the actual food-safety problem the corporation is now out to solve. On Thursday, the giant Arkansas-based retailer issued a statement about “enhanced poultry safety measures” it plans to implement. “The new guidelines are in addition to Walmart’s food safety program that requires poultry suppliers to achieve prevention-based certification against one of the Global Food Safety Initiative (GFSI) internationally recognized standards,” Walmart’s statement read. But what food-safety problem is the company trying to address? The new initiative took on some clarity with statements from Dr. Chris Braden, who heads up CDC’s unit that includes food and waterborne diseases. He said CDC and Walmart are working together to reduce Salmonella and “other pathogen contamination” in poultry as it’s sold at the retail level. Survey research projects of raw chicken purchased at retail have shown high levels of contamination for both Salmonella and Campylobacter in both the U.S. and the United Kingdom. Such high levels mean that people handling and cooking raw chicken must use extra care to avoid cross-contamination and cook it thoroughly to achieve proper internal temperatures. Braden said the CDC/Walmart project is a “public-private” partnership “that benefits everything.” The enhanced safety measures will fall on Walmart’s poultry suppliers, who will have until June 2016 to comply. Walmart did not respond to a Food Safety News request for a copy of the new protocols. The company said the protocols have been “vetted” by numerous stakeholders, including the academic community, regulators, and consumer groups, in addition to poultry suppliers. “Walmart’s implementation of enhanced safety measures for poultry products provides leadership for the food industry and continues a progressive approach to providing the safest possible food,” said Dr. Gary Acuff, director of the Texas A&M Center for Food Safety, and who has apparently been part of the vetting. He said the new protocols are “a smart, science-supported move that will greatly benefit consumers.” The goal of the new “farm-to-fork” controls is to reduce pathogen contamination, including on “chicken parts.”

  • john kilcher

    One has to be leary about any project WalMart undertakes to maintain its “good guy” image. This corporation pays it workers so poorly that many if not most of them also receive food stamps.

  • Merle

    Can the check out personnel be trained to not put raw meat in with foods that will not be cooked thoroughly enough to kill food borne pathogens? Let’s start with getting your own house in order Walmart before you go out to suppliers.