Chair of the House Appropriations Committee Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released a statement applauding a new proposal announced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to reduce salmonella illnesses resulting from the consumption of poultry.
"I applaud the USDA, under the leadership of Secretary Tom Vilsack, for taking this action to keep contaminated foods off the market," said Chair DeLauro. "Every year, over one million Americans are made sick because of salmonella contamination and one fifth of those cases stem from chicken or turkey. It is time to ensure food manufacturers are held to the highest standard. With this proposal, poultry processing plants would be required to test poultry for salmonella before slaughter. Requiring interventions and pathogen control throughout the slaughter and processing of poultry and preventing contaminated product from eventually reaching the market is a no brainer. I am pleased the USDA is taking this step to strengthen food safety standards at poultry processing plants, and I hope the USDA works quickly to adopt these new measures to protect the safety and health of the public."
Under the new proposal from USDA, poultry processing plants would be required to test incoming flocks for salmonella before slaughter and document the salmonella levels before entering an establishment. The requirement will incentivize plants to implement preharvest interventions and other measures to reduce the salmonella load in the final poultry product.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC),Salmonella bacteria cause about 1.35 million infections, 26,500 hospitalizations, and 420 deaths in the United States every year. Salmonella is widespread in chicken in part because of the often crowded and unsanitary conditions in which they are raised. A Consumer Reports investigation found almost one-third of ground chicken samples tested contained salmonella.
DeLauro has introduced legislation in the past, such as the Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act, that would strengthen the ability of the USDA to keep Americans safe from contaminated meat, poultry, and eggs. Among other reforms, the bill would define Salmonella strains that are associated with serious illness or death, or that are drug-resistant, to be an adulterant in poultry. This change in definition would subject such contaminated products to the USDA's mandatory recall authority.