Weekly Overview: New Proposal to Cut Foodborne Pathogens in Poultry Meat Cuts

GLOBAL - The US food safety agency has announced this week a proposal aimed at cutting markedly foodborne bacteria on chicken and turkey parts. High-path avian flu, meanwhile, is wreaking havoc in Taiwan's goose sector and in the last week, Nigeria, Israel, Palestine and the US state of Idaho have reported their first cases of the disease, while new outbreaks have occurred in Japan.
calendar icon 22 January 2015
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The food safety authority in the United States is proposing changes aimed at cutting foodborne bacteria contamination of poultry cuts.

Tighter standards on poultry products will prevent 50,000 illnesses each year, predicts the US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The drop will come from anticipated actions to control Salmonella and Campylobacter in the poultry supply chain.

Proposals, expected to be finalised in the spring, cover raw chicken breasts, legs, wings and ground chicken and turkey products.

It will mean improved testing patterns, which deputy under-secretary for food safety, Al Almanza, said will have a “major impact” on public health, while Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack said: "This is a meaningful, targeted step that could prevent tens of thousands of illnesses each year."

Targets are to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter by a minimum of 30 per cent and 19 per cent, respectively, from the poultry products covered.

Also in the news this week, the way could be reopened for the restoration of EU exports to Russia. This could apply in the first instance to pork and pig meat products but there is a chance that, in time, this could be followed by a resumption of poultry meat exports.

Meanwhile, a senator is pushing for renewed efforts to force South Africa to cut the duties on imports of US poultry meat.

Avian flu has been sweeping through several countries. It must be hitting consumer confidence as well as causing huge challenges for the industry, with the goose sector in Taiwan a particular target. There, three different H5 highly pathogenic virus subtypes – including a new H5N3 variant – are reported already to have hit dozens of farms and hundreds of thousands of birds have died or been culled in the run-up to the Chinese New Year.

The infection is also sweeping across Nigeria, with poultry flocks affected in both the north and south of the country, while Israel and the Palestinian Territory have also reported their first outbreaks for some years. Japan has reported new outbreaks and the virus has also been detected for the first time in the US state of Idaho.

Both Egypt and China are reporting increased numbers of cases of the disease in humans since the start of the year.

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