Consumer groups encourage USDA secretary to continue efforts to make chicken products safer


By Coral Beach, Food Safety News by Marler Clark

September 14, 2022


Several groups, including Consumer Reports and STOP Foodborne Illness, have written to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack in support of increased food safety efforts regarding Salmonella in poultry.


The groups describe current regulations as “antiquated” and encourage the secretary to move forward to develop new and enforceable standards that are product based. They say such changes are “a commonsense approach” and will help protect consumers from dangerous Salmonella-contaminated poultry.


“These reforms are urgently needed. Salmonella illness rates in the United States have not decreased in the last 20 years,” the letter states. “Nearly a quarter of foodborne Salmonella illnesses are due to eating chicken or turkey.”


The coalition of consumer protection groups says in its letter to the USDA secretary that is urges him to continue working toward updated testing standards, greater disclosure of establishment compliance with food safety standards, and improved foodborne illness outbreak surveillance tools.


“We strongly support a transition away from the current, unenforced, performance standard-based system to one that ensures every product bearing the USDA mark of inspection meets food safety criteria. We also commend your commitment to mitigating Salmonella risk through ‘pre- harvest’ measures, and exploring a Salmonella testing requirement for each flock of birds destined for slaughter,” the letter states.


The letter acknowledges that Secretary Vilsack and the U.S. Department of Agriculture will encounter pushback from the poultry industry on any new regulations related to the control and reduction of Salmonella...