After FRONTLINE’s documentary on Salmonella in poultry aired Tuesday night on PBS, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) officially introduced legislation to give the U.S. Department of Agriculture mandatory recall authority over contaminated meat and poultry. Gillibrand discussed her Meat and Poultry Recall Notification Act with reporters in February, saying that, if passed, the bill would make “the most important change to our food safety systems since Upton Sinclair wrote ‘The Jungle’ and Teddy Roosevelt signed the Federal Meat Inspection Act of 1906.” grocery-store-meat-406FRONTLINE’s “The Trouble with Chicken” detailed the confusing world of Salmonella standards and recall regulations, along with a timeline of how recent Salmonella Heidelberg outbreaks linked to Foster Farms were addressed by the company and USDA. Currently, if food is found to be adulterated or unsafe, or it causes foodborne illnesses, USDA can recommend that the manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer voluntarily recall the product. If the company refuses, there are some additional actions FSIS could take to persuade a company to issue the recall, but the agency can require one only if there was an adulterant discovered. But not all foodborne pathogens are officially considered adulterants. For example, E. coli O157:H7 is, but Salmonella isn’t. There have been efforts to convince USDA to declare antibiotic-resistant Salmonella an adulterant, but under Gillibrand’s bill, the Secretary of Agriculture could issue a mandatory recall of a food regardless of whether the harmful pathogen has been declared an adulterant or not. In the past Congress, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced the Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act to give USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service the authority to declare any foodborne pathogens as adulterants and recall contaminated products. It is expected that the pair will reintroduce the legislation in the House during the current session.