Statement of CSPI senior food safety attorney David Plunkett
The new performance standards announced today by the Food Safety and Inspection Service should reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination on ground chicken and turkey as well as chicken parts. That is welcome news. But the standards only move the ball modestly, reducing contamination rates from 25 percent of product to 15 percent; they don’t get us over the food safety goal line.
Each year 830,000 people get sick from eating chicken and turkey contaminated with these two bacteria. The standards, if they are effective, will reduce that number by an estimated 50,000 illnesses a year. In the aftermath of the Foster Farms outbreak, which may have sickened as many as 20,000 people, that company reduced contamination rates to three percent of product. Certainly that shows processing plants can and should be required to do better.