New Standards for Foodborne Pathogens in Poultry

US - The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and turkey.
calendar icon 7 January 2010
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FSIS has developed new pathogen reduction performance standards for control of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in chilled carcasses at young chicken (broiler) and turkey slaughter establishments that are eligible for agency verification sampling. FSIS has had standards for Salmonella but not for Campylobacter. These new standards respond to certain key recommendations of the President's Food Safety Working Group to reduce the prevalence of disease-causing bacteria, Salmonella and Campylobacter, in poultry.

The new performance standards are based on analysis of data from recent FSIS baseline sample collection programs for young chickens and turkeys. FSIS will issue a Federal Register notice in the very near future that will provide specific details concerning the new standards. The Federal Register notice will also provide a full account of the development of these performance standards and their estimated public health impact. In addition, it will invite comments from the public. The agency will evaluate the comments and make necessary changes to the standards in response to those comments in a subsequent Federal Register notice. FSIS intends to implement the new standards by July 2010. The subsequent Federal Register notice will announce the implementation date.

FSIS has set a goal that 90 per cent of covered establishments will meet the new standards for Salmonella bacteria by the end of calendar year 2010. The new Salmonella performance standards will limit the number of positive samples that are acceptable in a defined set, as compared to past standards. The new Campylobacter standards will also limit the number of positive samples that are acceptable in a defined set. The laboratory procedures for Campylobacter specifically detect samples with high numbers of organisms. Limiting high numbers of Campylobacter bacteria in carcasses is important because this pathogen does not grow under normal handling temperatures, and thus products with higher initial contamination are relatively more hazardous.

FSIS will implement a verification testing programme in establishments, similar in design to the agency's current testing programme, and use the results as one measure of establishment process control for reducing exposure of pathogens to the public. The agency has found using pathogen reduction performance standards in this way to be effective in encouraging improved establishment control of pathogens.

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