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article imageFSIS — Most poultry plants will fail new inspection standards

By Karen Graham     Jun 1, 2016 in Food
Poultry slaughter facilities around the country have only a few weeks left to get their act together and show they have implemented the new FSIS Pathogen Reduction Standards. But the feds expect almost half to fail.
The USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) won't start assessing whether poultry operations are meeting new pathogen reduction standards until July 1, according to a recent USDA update. July 1 is also when all poultry facilities inspection reports, pass or fail, will be published on the web.
The delay in the new regulations is to give inspectors additional time to become familiar with the new instructions on sampling procedures. On February 4, 2016, the USDA/FSIS issued its final rule on regulations designed to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings, as well as in ground chicken and turkey products.
The new standards were proposed in early 2015 and form a part of the Salmonella Action Plan from 2013. Data from the National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) show that the incidence of Salmonella in poultry products is five to 10 times higher than that in ground beef or pork chops, according to the Federal Register.
Al Almanza, the USDA deputy under secretary for food safety told Food Quality News that this new approach in testing and compliance is based on science, while being supported by strong research.
Each year in the United States, 830,000 people get sick from eating chicken or turkey contaminated with Salmonella or Campylobacter organisms. With the new standards in place, they should help in reducing the number of illnesses each year by 50,000 or more.
Most poultry processors will fail at first
“FSIS estimates that approximately 63 percent of raw chicken parts producing establishments, 62 percent of NRTE (not-ready-to-eat) comminuted chicken producing establishments, and 58 percent of NRTE comminuted turkey producing establishments will not meet the new Salmonella standards,” the agency stated, according to Food Safety News.
The odds are better for reducing Campylobacter because the industry has been successful in reducing the incidence of this pathogen in many of the poultry products, especially in ground turkey. But the FSIS estimates that 46 percent of raw chicken parts producing establishments, 24 percent of NRTE comminuted chicken producing establishments, and 9 percent of NRTE comminuted turkey producing establishments will not meet the new Campylobacter standards.
The consumer's right to know
The new standards mean that more inspections of poultry slaughter facilities will be undertaken, and while changes will mean cost increases for some operations, the procedures are not complicated. The number of testing samples and frequency of sample collections will depend on the size and food safety record of specific facilities.
The largest operations can expect to have inspectors collecting samples four or five times a month, roughly once a week, according to the new procedures. But in keeping with the consumer's right to know about the products they will consume, FSIS will post assessment results on its website for public review. The agency will use the following categories and pass/fail designations when posting results:
Category 1 — Consistent Process Control: Establishments that have achieved 50 percent or less of the Salmonella or Campylobacter maximum allowable percent positive during all completed 52-week moving windows over the last three months.
Category 2 — Variable Process Control: Establishments that meet the Salmonella or Campylobacter maximum allowable percent positive for all completed 52-week moving windows but have results greater than 50 percent of the maximum allowable percent positive during any completed 52-week moving window over the last three months.
Category 3 — Highly Variable Process Control: Establishments that have exceeded the Salmonella or Campylobacter maximum allowable percent positive during any completed 52-week moving window over the last three months.
Passing — Establishments that meet the Campylobacter maximum allowable percent positive for NRTE comminuted chicken or turkey during all completed 52-week moving windows over the last three months.
Failing — Establishments that have exceeded the Campylobacter maximum allowable percent positive for NRTE comminuted chicken or turkey during any completed 52-week moving window over the last three months.
More about fsis inspections, poultry parts, pathogen reduction standards, Salmonella, Food safety
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