Not all Salmonella are alike. Camplyobacter likely similar.

Preharvest economic incentives haven’t eliminated STEC but imagine what the data would be like if there were none. Leafy greens anyone? Scandinavia has accomplished a lot and could do more if tourists would stay home.

Ideally, the best place to eliminate those pathogens would be the last steps before consuming, but not on this planet. Almost four decades of FSIS’ Hot Line, and two decades of Fight Bac have accomplished something but not enough. Slaughter houses cannot eliminate the pathogens coming in.

Maybe a 2Log reduction on a good day. (Cf Berrang’s “fun” paper) Too many slaughterers don’t lean on their suppliers — even the vertically integrated companies. Reminds me of the small grinders when they came under the Salmonella Performance Standard. Many followed the generic guideline and didn’t realize the bugs came in on the trim.

Too many consumers and retail operators are inept at handling food containing pathogens that are ordinarily injurious to public health. (Flippin, Kampelbacher, Woodburn, NAS etc.)

IMHO, more pressure needs to be put on producers. That would reduce the slaughter house burden and the environmental burden. Declare the bugs adulterants, and require slaughterers to send product from a repeat producer to cooking until the producer has a validated, verified control program.

About the author: Carl Custer is an independent consultant for food safety microbiology. He retired from USDA FSIS in 2007 after over 34 years as a bench and a desk scientist. Custer also served as a trainer for FSIS inspectors, the FSIS Hotline, retail processors and inspectors, small farm processors, and country ham processors. He is a lifetime member of the International Food Protection Association (IAFP) and the American Society for Microbiology. He was also a member of the Food Microbiology Research Conference executive board for twelve years and the Chair for two years. For additional details about Custer’s work, click here to read his full author profile.

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