USDA publishes Salmonella Action Plan



Today the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) announced a new plan to combat Salmonella contamination in meat and poultry products.

The Salmonella Action Plan aims to reduce the number of foodborne illness cases attributed to the bacteria. Currently, about 1.3 million illnesses in the U.S. annually are linked to Salmonella. The plan lists “modernizing the outdated poultry slaughter inspection system” as a priority, along with improving Salmonella sampling and testing programs and giving inspectors more tools to better identify and stop problems. Likewise, the plan also details ways to cut Salmonella rates, such as new performance standards, new inspection strategies throughout  the production chain and enhancing education and outreach.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the plan’s points (it’s a long list – you can find it in its entirety here):

  • Implement the proposed poultry slaughter rule, which FSIS estimates could reduce Salmonella cases by about 4,200 annually.
  • Continue investigations into products that currently are not sampled for Salmonella and determine if they should be sampled.
  • Look at creating a Salmonella sampling program for pork products and issue a directive in regard to sanitation verification in hog slaughter plants.
  • Test comminuted (i.e. ground up or pulverized) poultry for Salmonella, which in turn will lead to a new performance standard.
  • Create new plant strategies, such as training inspectors on evaluating developing plant conditions that could be linked to Salmonella.
  • Create new enforcement strategies.
  • Increase outreach and education surrounding Salmonella and the steps taken to prevent it.

“Far too many Americans are sickened by Salmonella every year,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen in a statement. “The aggressive and comprehensive steps detailed in the Salmonella Action Plan will protect consumers by making meat and poultry products safer.”

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