WASHINGTON — After the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety Inspection and Service (FSIS) announced plans to declare Salmonella as an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products, meat and poultry trade associations delivered their response.
The National Chicken Council (NCC) released a statement with information from Ashley Peterson, senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs.
“Going back to the passage of the Poultry Products Inspection Act in 1957, the mere presence of Salmonella has not rendered raw poultry adulterated,” Peterson said. said “We believe FSIS already has the regulatory and public health tools to work with the industry to ensure the continued safety of these products. We’ve been asking the agency for years to collaborate on these efforts, including two petitions for stricter regulations, requests that have gone largely ignored.”
NCC said it is concerned about the “abrupt shift” in policy and how plants, jobs and products may be affected. The association does not believe the decision to change policy was based on data since the product category has not seen an outbreak since 2015.
“The only way to ensure our food is safe 100% of the time is by following science-based procedures when raising and processing chicken, and by handling and cooking it properly at home,” Peterson said. “NCC remains confident these products can be prepared and consumed safely, and the industry remains committed to continuing their efforts to further enhance the safety of these products.”
While NCC questions FSIS’s policy shift, the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) remains open to working with FSIS on the changes.
“Consumer health and safety are the driving forces for the industry in the production of meat and poultry products,” said Julie Anna Potts, NAMI president and chief executive officer. “Efforts to combat Salmonella remain a high priority for the meat and poultry industry, which invests millions in research and technologies to better understand and control Salmonella. Salmonella is a complex microorganism and more must be done to educate the public and to invest in research and innovations, such as irradiation, to fight it at all points in the food supply chain. We are encouraged to see FSIS is providing notice and a comment period to allow the industry to participate in the rulemaking process.”