USDA updates salmonella classification in poultry products

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service is declaring Salmonella as an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products.

USDA Deputy Undersecretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin tells Brownfield the updated classification means boosting the standard for acceptable bacteria within the poultry products.

“We’re proposing a level of one coloney forming unit per gram,” she said. “That is a very low level of contamination.”

Eskin said breaded and raw chicken products have been linked to 14 salmonella outbreaks in the last 25 years, leading to hundreds of illnesses – but outbreaks are only the tip of the iceberg.

“There continue to be a lot – as in 1.35 million illnesses a year caused by salmonella bacteria,” she said. “And approximately a quarter of those have been linked to poultry products.”

Eskin said the reclassification of salmonella will only affect poultry products for now, but she doesn’t expect disruptions to product availability.

“In order to make these products safer, it’s not going to take a lot of resources or effort,” Eskin said. “We don’t see any major impact.”

The classification change is expected to take place this fall with salmonella monitoring running through the FSIS office. FSIS is taking public comments before the change for possible adjustments to the rule.

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