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USDA Poised To Ban The Riskiest Salmonella Contamination From Raw Poultry, Following More Than A Decade Of Advocacy By CSPI

USDA Poised To Ban The Riskiest Salmonella Contamination From Raw Poultry, Following More Than A Decade Of Advocacy By CSPI

Statement of Sarah Sorscher, Deputy Director of Regulatory Affairs

Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture proposed a new regulatory framework aimed at reducing Salmonella illnesses caused by poultry products. The framework reveals the agency is considering the unprecedented step of banning the highest-risk Salmonella contamination from raw poultry, helping ensure that product likely to make people sick is not sold to consumers. 

These standards, modeled on measures the agency took to ban dangerous STEC E coli in ground beef in the 1990s, would replace existing non-specific performance standards that set no limits on the amount or type of Salmonella that can be present in raw poultry. The current standards allow chicken and turkey carrying high levels of the most dangerous serotypes to be stamped “USDA Inspected” and placed on store shelves, putting consumers at risk of illness. 

These weak standards may be one reason Salmonella remains the nation’s leading cause of death and hospitalization from food poisoning. Chicken is the leading source of foodborne Salmonellosis, according to the most recent attribution data.  

USDA’s announcement of this framework represents a landmark acknowledgement from an agency that has long refused to recognize that Salmonella in raw poultry poses unacceptable risks. Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) first petitioned the USDA to ban certain strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in 2011, and again in 2014, but was denied twice by the agency.  

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