An additional 60 days is available for public comments on a petition seeking to declare 31 Salmonella strains as adulterants in meat and poultry.

The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service added the time to the comment clock in response to a March 16 request from the North American Meat Institute (NAMI). The meat industry group asked the agency for more time to comment on the petition that “would be one of the most significant policy changes affecting the meat and poultry industry in decades.”

The NAMI request suggested a 90-day extension, but FSIS agreed to only 60. The original deadline was midnight March 23. The new deadline is midnight May 22.

Food safety attorney Bill Marler — along with several national consumer organizations — filed the petition on Jan. 19 on behalf of those who’ve suffered from Salmonella illnesses after consuming meat and poultry.

The 31 salmonella serotypes are those that require recalls and cause illnesses, according to the petition. They are the ones that are an “imminent threat to public health.”

Marler, who also serves as publisher of Food Safety News, was previously for banning the deadly E. coliO157: H7 in raw ground beef. The USDA made that pathogen an adulterant in ground beef in October 1994.

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