Food Safety First: Focus on Protecting Against Salmonella
Salmonella bacteria are the most frequently reported cause of foodborne illness. These one-celled organisms are too small to be seen without a microscope.
Two types, SalmonellaEnteritidis and Salmonella Typhimurium are the most common in the United States and account for half of all human infections.
USDA's Salmonella Action Plan aims at the threat of Salmonella in meat and poultry products. The plan identifies modernizing the current poultry slaughter inspection system as a top priority. By focusing inspectors’ duties solely on food safety, at least 5,000 illnesses can be prevented each year.
National Turkey Federation is pleased to see that USDA’s proposed Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection is ranked as the first and most important strategy to lower Salmonella illness rates. The proposed inspection rule is a modern, sensible approach that will allow the food safety inspectors to shift to prevention-oriented inspection systems and redeploy resources in a manner that better protects the public from all foodborne diseases, including Salmonella.
Enhancing Salmonella sampling and testing programs is also part of this comprehensive effort, ensuring that these programs factor in the latest scientific information available and account for emerging trends in foodborne illness. Inspectors will also be empowered with the tools necessary to expeditiously pinpoint problems. With more information about a plant’s performance history and with better methods for assessing in-plant conditions, inspectors will be better positioned to detect Salmonella earlier, before it can cause an outbreak.
In 2011, USDA strengthened the performance standards for Salmonella in poultry with a goal of significantly reducing illnesses by 20,000 per year. And through the Salmonella Initiative Program, plants are now using processing techniques designed to directly reduce Salmonella in raw meat and poultry.