How Safe is the Poultry We Eat?

Washington—The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it will draft new safety standards for Campylobacter in poultry, in addition to the previously-announced timeline on Salmonella. These standards are expected to be ready by the end of September.

The letter announcing the actions can be found here. The Department took this step in response to an April letter from Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) that expressed concern over food safety standards and urged the Department of Agriculture to develop better standards that would significantly reduce the levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter in poultry.

“Simply put, the levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter in chicken are too high,” said Feinstein. “Secretary Vilsack made the right decision to accelerate the creation of strong standards for both pathogens. These pathogens have been on the rise, illnesses and deaths are up and action is clearly needed. Now it is critical that the Department sets meaningful standards that are actually effective in reducing the number of illnesses and deaths.”

“I am pleased to hear that the USDA is taking proactive steps to address the risk of foodborne illness by establishing strong performance standards for poultry products, including poultry parts,” said Durbin. “I look forward to continuing work with USDA, the Food and Drug Administration, and my Senate colleagues to ensure that the food American families find on store shelves and put on their dinner tables is safe.”

“I am pleased that USDA has now moved forward to develop performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter,” said Gillibrand “The U.S. has made little progress in reducing the rate of foodborne illnesses from Salmonella and Campylobacter over the past 10 years, and it is time to turn that track record around. I will continue to work with Secretary Vilsack and my colleagues in the Senate to improve food safety for American families.”