http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photography-raw-chicken-drumsticks-close-up-image45080472Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are asking Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to finalize USDA’s Salmonella and Campylobacter performance standards as soon as possible. In January, USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s (FSIS) proposed changes to the Salmonella and Campylobacter Verification Testing Program created brand-new standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter levels in chicken breasts, legs and wings, and for Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey. The agency also updated the existing standards for Salmonella in ground chicken and turkey to make them harder to meet. The agency estimates that the changes will prevent about 50,000 illnesses each year. “Public health is at stake and we believe the department should act swiftly to implement these new safeguards,” the senators wrote to Vilsack on Thursday. They said they were troubled that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2014 Food Safety Progress report showed a lack of progress made in reducing the number of Salmonella illnesses and that Campylobacter illnesses have increased by 13 percent over the baseline numbers from 2006-2008. “These alarming rates of foodborne illness are caused, in part, by the unacceptably high levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination on poultry products,” the senators wrote. “Routine testing done in 2013 by the department found that more than 40 percent of ground chicken tested positive for Salmonella. A 2012 study found that 26 percent of poultry parts tested positive for Salmonella and 21 percent tested positive for Campylobacter.” Public comments were accepted on the proposed changes through March, and FSIS in January that said it planned to announce final standards and an implementation date for them in the spring.

  • kev4321

    This should be seen as evidence of a huge failure of the the corporate agenda as carried out by the FDA and USDA. See: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/06/05/the-largest-grocer-in-the-texas-is-now-rationing-eggs/

    There has been a fair amount of discussion of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which, IMHO, is intended to strangle organic and small farm food producers for the benefit of corporate agribusiness and grocers. The “poultry crisis” shows that the FDA and USDA have been so concerned with the corporate agenda of the FSMA they have totally failed to address the real threat. Placing the profits of a select group of corporations over public safety, the FDA and USDA have allowed a major part of the food system to become diseased and unsafe. While there are always other factors and the problems can be spun many ways, the many warnings of poor conditions and indiscriminate use of antibiotics and other medications are born out by events. The FDA and UDSA have known of these risks for a long time, but they remain focused on their corporate agenda to the detriment of public safety.