NTF Responds to CSPI Report

April 23, 2013
Washington, DC

“After closely reviewing the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s (CSPI)’s report entitled Risky Meat, A CSPI Field Guide to Meat and Poultry Safety, we concluded the report has notable flaws, but also recognizes the outstanding job the industry, regulators, and consumers have done in reducing foodborne illness in this country.  The report does right by reminding Americans that although industry prevention is very important, a significant portion of the illnesses can be prevented only by consumers.  The CSPI report notes that the single-largest number foodborne illnesses it claims are associated with turkey, result from a pathogen that contaminates cooked meat and poultry left out too long before refrigerating.

Since 1998, the turkey industry has done a remarkable job at enhancing the safety of its products.  As proof, USDA testing today indicates that more than 97 percent of all turkey carcasses, and almost 89 percent of all ground turkey sampled are Salmonella-free. Moreover, turkey companies devote millions of dollars to further reduce Salmonella, and all pathogens of concern in turkey products.  The prevalence of Salmonella on whole turkeys is nearly 80 percent lower today than it was in 1996, and its prevalence on ground turkey has declined by 67 percent during the same time period.

NTF is disappointed by CSPI’s claims, in particular its self-proclaimed risk index for meat and poultry.  The report appears to treat a 2-hour emergency room visit the same as a 3-day hospital stay.  It does not analyze treatment outcomes, and fails to place illnesses in the context of the amount of meat and poultry products consumed.  While the turkey industry believes that any illness or trip to the doctor is one too many, consumers also deserve a more accurate picture of just how safe all meat and poultry products truly are.

NTF encourages consumers to ensure food safety and prevent foodborne illness by following proper hand washing, avoiding cross contamination, cooking food thoroughly (to 165 degrees Fahrenheit in the case of turkey), and refrigerating cooked food promptly. The turkey industry will continue to do its part controlling naturally occurring pathogens where it can, and educating consumers about their role in preventing illnesses.” 

NTF is the national advocate for all segments of the $29.5 billion turkey industry—providing services and conducting activities to increase demand and raise awareness for its members' products, while strengthening their ability to profitably and safely deliver wholesome, high-quality, and nutritious food to consumers worldwide.  Visit our website onwww.eatturkey.com, ‘follow us’ on Twitter and ‘like us’ on Facebook.