USDA proposes new regulations to get rid of salmonella in chicken
FOX Business Flash top headlines for August 1
Check out what’s clicking on FoxBusiness.com.
The federal government on Monday announced proposed new regulations that would force food processors to reduce the amount of salmonella bacteria found in some raw chicken products or risk being shut down.
The proposed U.S. Department of Agriculture rules would declare salmonella an adulterant — a contaminant that can cause food-borne illness — in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products. That includes many frozen foods found in grocery stores, including chicken cordon bleu and chicken Kyiv products that appear to be cooked through but are only heat-treated to set the batter or breading.
The agency notified producers of the proposed changes on Friday.
USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Sandra Eskin said it marks the beginning of a broader agency effort to curtail illnesses caused by the salmonella bacteria, which sickens 1.3 million Americans each year. It sends more than 26,000 of them to hospitals and causes 420 deaths, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.
AMERICA'S BEST CHICKEN WINGS: 6 LOCAL HOTSPOTS THAT RULE THE ROOST, SAY EXPERTS
Food is the source for most of those illnesses.
The CDC says approximately one in every 25 packages of chicken sold at grocery stores contains salmonella bacteria.
Since 1998, breaded and stuffed raw chicken products have been associated with 14 salmonella outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses, the USDA said in a statement. An outbreak last year tied to frozen breaded raw chicken products caused 36 illnesses in 11 states and sent 12 people to hospitals.
The USDA currently has performance standards that poultry processing plants have to meet to reduce contamination, but the agency cannot stop products from being sold. There is also no adequate testing system to determine levels of salmonella in meat, Eskin said.
CDC TELLS PUBLIC TO NOT 'KISS OR SNUGGLE' CHICKENS, DUCKS, BACKYARD POULTRY AMID SALMONELLA OUTBREAKS
The proposed new rules require routine testing at chicken processing plants. Products would be considered adulterated when they exceed a very low level of salmonella contamination and would be subject to regulatory action, including shuttering plants that fail to reduce salmonella bacteria levels in their products, Eskin said.
"This action and our overall salmonella initiative underscore our view that our job is to ensure that consumers don’t get sick from meat and poultry products," she said. "They shouldn’t be sold if they’re contaminated to the degree that people get sick."