Today, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) published revised guidelines aimed at assisting poultry processors with controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw food products and preventing foodborne illness.

The guidelines--entitled “FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry”--are the fourth edition of the updated documents. They are intended to offer poultry companies best practices for minimizing pathogen levels and meeting FSIS’ food safety requirements.

“These guidelines take into account the latest science and practical considerations, including lessons learned from foodborne illness outbreaks in the last several years, to assist establishments in producing safer food,” says USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “This new guide is one piece of FSIS’ Salmonella Action Plan and our effort to reduce Salmonella illnesses attributed to meat and poultry products by 25 percent in order to meet the nation’s Healthy People 2020 goals. By following the newer guidelines, poultry facilities can help us reach this important public health target.”

Despite rates of foodborne illness having fallen over the years, reports of Salmonella poisoning have plateaued, prompting FSIS to take what they’re calling an “all-hands approach to addressing the pathogen in meat and poultry products.” The guidance, along with development of new performance standards for raw chicken breasts, legs and wings as well as for ground and other comminuted chicken and turkey products unveiled in January, are a major step in FSIS' Salmonella Action Plan. FSIS’ science-based risk assessment estimates that implementation of the new performance standards will lead to an average of 50,000 prevented illnesses annually.

FSIS is currently seeking comment on the guidelines since they have not been updated since 2010. FSIS will accept comments 60 days from the date of the guidance publishing in the Federal Register.

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