Originally proposed in April 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) has finalized its determination to declare Salmonella an adulterant in raw, breaded and stuffed chicken products at levels exceeding 1 colony forming unit per gram (CFU/g). The final determination is part of FSIS’ ongoing efforts to reduce the cases of salmonellosis in humans attributable to chicken products in the U.S.

FSIS will carry out verification procedures, such as sampling and testing of incoming raw chicken prior to its stuffing and breading, to ensure establishments that produce products covered by the final rule are sufficiently controlling Salmonella. If the chicken component in covered products does not meet the new standard, the product lot represented by the sampled component would not be permitted to be used to produce the final raw, breaded and stuffed chicken products.

The determination, including FSIS’ sampling and verification testing, will be effective 12 months after its publication in the Federal Register.

FSIS is targeting raw, breaded and stuffed chicken products in its final determination due to its reoccurring association with Salmonella outbreaks; despite only accounting for less than 0.15 percent of the total U.S. chicken supply, these products have represented approximately 5 percent of all chicken-associated Salmonella outbreaks in the U.S. between 1998 and 2020. Since 1998, FSIS and its public health partners have investigated 14 Salmonella outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses associated with these products.

Raw, breaded and stuffed chicken products are pre-browned and may appear cooked, but the chicken is raw. The products are cooked by consumers from a frozen state, which increases the risk of the product not reaching the internal temperature needed to destroy Salmonella. Despite FSIS’ and industry’s efforts to improve labeling, these products continue to be associated with Salmonella illness outbreaks.

FSIS will continue to evaluate and, as necessary, refine its policies and standards related to the oversight of raw breaded stuffed chicken products to reflect advances in science and technology related to pathogen levels, serotypes, laboratory methods, and infectious dose.