USDA Gets Tough on Salmonella in Breaded Chicken Products

A very low level of Salmonella contamination in the products would lead to regulatory action

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MONDAY, Aug. 1, 2022 (HealthDay News) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to toughen regulations on certain raw chicken products.

The agency has notified food processors that new rules would require they lower the amount of Salmonella found in breaded and stuffed chicken products, which include frozen foods such as chicken cordon bleu and chicken Kiev. These foods appear to be cooked but are only heat-treated to set their batter or breading. The new rules would declare Salmonella an adulterant (i.e., contaminant that can cause foodborne illness).

"Food safety is at the heart of everything FSIS [Food Safety and Inspection Service] does," U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in an agency news release. "That mission will guide us as this important first step launches a broader initiative to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry in the U.S."

The USDA has standards for poultry processors that are meant to reduce contamination, but there is not an adequate testing system to determine Salmonella levels in meat, explained Sandra Eskin, USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, according to the Associated Press. Chicken would be routinely tested under these changes. A very low level of Salmonella contamination in the products would lead to regulatory action that could include closing processing plants.

"This action and our overall Salmonella initiative underscore our view that our job is to ensure that consumers don't get sick from meat and poultry products," Eskin told the AP. "They shouldn't be sold if they're contaminated to the degree that people get sick."

The new rules will be published in the fall in the Federal Register, the AP reported, after the FSIS seeks public comment and finalizes the rules.

Associated Press Article

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