Statement of CSPI deputy director of regulatory affairs Sarah Sorscher

After close of business on Black Friday, the USDA announced that it had published the names of chicken slaughterhouses and processors that failed to meet performance standards for Salmonella in chicken parts. That’s an important step, since most Americans buy chicken parts and not whole carcasses (whole-carcass data were available previously). The new data, which cover the period October 29, 2017, through October 27, 2018, employ a new method for assessing performance standards that was announced earlier this month.

The parts data, which the USDA has pledged to publish since 2016, show stark differences between the top four major poultry producers. For example, 8 of Perdue Farms’ 11 ranked establishments (nearly three-quarters) failed to meet performance standards for chicken parts. By contrast, none of Tyson Foods’ 32 ranked establishments failed. The other two major producers were in the middle: 17 percent of ranked establishments operated by Sanderson Farms and 26 percent of those operated by Pilgrim’s Pride failed the chicken parts standard.

The posting marks the first time that the USDA has published the names of slaughterhouses and processors that failed the Salmonella performance standard for chicken parts. The data also spotlight an important problem: industry-wide, over a quarter of establishments are failing the chicken parts standard. The new data should encourage these failing slaughterhouses to clean up their act.