The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published proposals for new federal standards designed to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination in ground chicken and turkey products and raw chicken breasts, legs and wings.
FSIS is proposing to apply tough new pathogen reduction performance standards for chicken parts to follow on from the standards introduced in 1996 for whole chickens. When chicken carcasses are processed into smaller pieces, pathogen levels have been found to increase. Since 80% of chicken available for retail sale is in the form of chicken parts, implementing tougher standards at this stage could help reduce consumer exposure to Salmonella and Campylobacter.
FSIS says that the proposed standards for chicken parts are designed to give a 30% reduction Salmonella infections and a 19-37% reduction in illnesses caused by Campylobacter. A recent risk assessment estimates that this could prevent an average of 50,000 cases of illness each year.
FSIS will be evaluating comments on the proposals for 60 days and will announce final standards in the spring. More information on the proposals can be found here.