US Chicken Is Safe, Nutritious, Says Industry Council

US - The National Chicken Council is offering reassurance about the safety of US chicken following news of a voluntary recall of chicken products issued by Foster Farms in Livingston, California.
calendar icon 9 July 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

National Chicken Council President, Mike Brown, said: “Food safety is the top priority for companies that produce and process chicken products in the United States, and the industry prides itself on an excellent track record of delivering safe, affordable and wholesome food both domestically and abroad.

“Americans eat about 160 million servings of nutritious chicken every day, and virtually all of them are eaten safely. But we understand consumers have concerns about Salmonella, and regret any instances when someone becomes ill from eating chicken products – which is why our members are investing heavily in food safety research and are using the best science, research and technology available to break the chain of Salmonella at every stage of production.

“Coupled with continuous USDA inspection and proper handling and cooking to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, chicken is safe to eat 100 per cent of the time.

“We’re working every day to improve. For example, NCC expects a first-ever performance standard from FSIS for chicken parts (e.g. breasts, legs, etc. as opposed to whole chicken) later this year. The industry is exploring all options to reduce contamination throughout the process in order to provide the safest product possible to our consumers. This something the industry is proactively working to address. When a performance standard for parts is put in place by FSIS later this year, the industry intends to meet or exceed the standard, as we currently do for whole chicken.

“Even though we’ve collectively made tremendous progress in reducing Salmonella on raw chicken to all-time low levels, the fact is any raw agricultural product, whether its fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or poultry, is susceptible to naturally occurring bacteria that could make someone sick if improperly handled or cooked.

“We all play an important role in ensuring food safety for our families, from the farm to the table, and there are steps people can take in the home to significantly reduce any risk. New research from the University of California – Davis indicates that consumers do recognise they have a role in ensuring the safety of the food they eat.”

Yet the study’s results show that most participants, 65 per cent, did not wash their hands before starting meal preparation and 38 per cent did not wash their hands after touching raw chicken. Forty per cent of participants undercooked their chicken, and only 29 per cent knew the correct USDA recommended temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For more information about what companies are doing to combat foodborne pathogens, and for quick tips about properly handling and cooking chicken at home, click here.

Mr Brown continued: “NCC has serious concerns about FSIS’s grounds for this recall. Raw chicken containing Salmonella of the same type associated with a foodborne illness outbreak is not adulterated under the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. The agency acknowledges that Salmonella and other bacteria are not adulterants in chicken, but nonetheless now declares that these organisms adulterate chicken.

“Foodborne illness can occur from a variety of factors, including improper product handling, cross-contamination with other products at retail or during consumer preparation, or a failure to cook the product to the appropriate temperature. An establishment cannot control these factors, and until now, the food safety system has focused on managing those risks an establishment can control.

“The bottom line for consumers is that all pathogens found on raw chicken, regardless of strain or resistance profile, are controlled during processing under existing standards and will be fully destroyed by handling the product properly and cooking it to an internal temperature of 165°F.”

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