FSIS Pursues Pathogen Standards for Processors

US - The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is to tighten up controls on Campylobacter in poultry processing, and an official has called for measures to prevent Salmonella enteritidis from entering the food chain on broiler carcasses.
calendar icon 24 February 2009
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Studies that will lead to performance standards for Campylobacter are being conducted by USDA, according to Dr Daniel Engeljohn, deputy assistant administrator in the office of Policy and Program Development at Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The article in Meat & Poultry reports that standards for Campylobacter are expected be issued this year.

A baseline study of Campylobacter in broilers was conducted by USDA in 2007-2008 and the agency will issue 'guideline performance standards' in 2009, Dr Engeljohn recently said in remarks during a National Chicken Council committee meeting in Arlington, Virginia. Samples would be taken at re-hang and post-chill with 'enumerative criteria' instead of a qualitative, positive-negative finding, he added.

Dr Engeljohn said the agency will conduct a study of chicken parts this year and next, not just the whole carcass, and establish a 'guideline performance standard'. He indicated that breast portions will be the top priority.

He also expressed concern about the presence of Salmonella enteritidis in raw broilers. S. enteritidis has historically been associated with table eggs rather than meat chickens. While only 7.4 per cent of broiler carcasses are positive for any type of Salmonella, 18 per cent of those samples have S. enteritidis, he said.

"FSIS believes that S. enteritidis can be prevented from entering the human food chain through the foods regulated by FSIS," he said. "On-farm controls are practical and feasible for the adequate control of S. enteritidis. Federally-inspected establishments are expected to address food-safety hazards before, during and after the product enters the facility."

However, there is "no known industry-wide or collective focus" to reduction of S. enteritidis in broilers, Dr Engeljohn said, and the agency is working on a risk-management plan that will lead to compliance guidelines.

Dr Engeljohn noted that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention estimates that the country had 14.92 cases of salmonellosis per 100,000 population in 2007, which was more than the 13.7 cases per 100,000 population estimated in the baseline year of 1997.

FSIS estimates, however, that less than one case per 100,000 is attributable to Salmonella in broilers, he said, the Meat & Poultry article concludes.

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