USDA New Poultry Safety Standards

Recent news out of Washington D.C. is that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has released new food safety procedures to keep the poultry that restaurants serve, and thus the guests who consume it, safe of food borne illness.

Serving poultry is a mainstay for many U.S. restaurants. And according to the National Chicken Council, the numbers for chicken sales and consumption alone are astronomical: As a nation, we spend $70 billion on chicken and consume approximately 83.6 pounds of our favorite protein per person, per year!

The new safety measures taken by the USDA and listed below support three core principles developed by the President’s Food Safety Working Group: Prioritizing prevention, strengthening surveillance and enforcement of safety standards.

Identifying Hazards. Poultry producers will now be required to reassess their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans. This reassessment, which must be conducted by early-March 2013, has been instituted to improve a producer’s ability to identify hazards in their poultry and production, whereby helping to avoid future outbreaks and ensure a safer food supply.

Zero-tolerance Policy. Last spring, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) stepped-up it’s testing of raw poultry trim whereby requiring testing for six strains of contaminants such as E. coli. Any trim found to be contaminated with such pathogens, which can cause severe illness and even death, will be removed from commerce and immediately recalled.

Labeling. New labeling requirements have been put in place to provide better and more detailed information to consumers by requiring nutritional information for single-ingredient poultry products.

Information Sharing. By creating and implementing a modern, comprehensive Public Health Information System database, information on public health trends, food safety violations and the like at the nearly 6,100 plants the FSIS regulates are now at the disposal of the agency.

Performance Standards. Revised standards have been put in place for poultry producers with the goal of continued reductions in the occurrence of pathogens within reach. For example, within two years of enforcing the new standards, the FSIS estimates that approximately 5,000 illnesses will be prevented each year under these new Campylobacter Standards, and approximately 20,000 illnesses will be prevented under the recently revised Salmonella Standards each year!

For more information on food safety and current regulations, visit USDA.