OMAHA, Nebraska (AP) – Federal health authorities are reviewing their approach to tackling Salmonella in poultry farms in hopes of reducing the number of diseases associated with the bacteria every year, and the USDA will announce several steps on Tuesday. plans to take to achieve this goal.
The USDA says the industry has managed to reduce the level of salmonella infections found in poultry farms in recent years, but that hasn’t resulted in the reduction in the incidence the agency wants it to see.
Poultry is associated with about 23% of the 1.35 million cases of Salmonella infections in the United States each year, resulting in an estimated 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths, and these numbers have not changed much.
Therefore, the USDA plans to launch pilot projects to try to change the way plants are tested for Salmonella and to try to encourage the industry to do more on the farm to reduce bacteria on chickens before they get on the plants. The agency also plans to hold a series of meetings with industry and interest groups to discuss other ways to reduce the risk of Salmonella.
“This is a deeper, more focused and more systematic approach than in the past,” said Agriculture Minister Tom Vilsack. “It is hoped that we can significantly reduce the risk of these serious cases, and it will certainly be worth it.”
The USDA is currently testing for Salmonella in poultry processing plants. One of the proposed pilot projects will add tests for the amount of bacteria present and tests for specific Salmonella strains that cause most diseases.
The agency also wants to encourage farmers to take a combination of steps that have been shown to reduce bacteria in their chickens, including using more vaccinations, adding probiotics to their feed, and taking additional measures to ensure the birds’ bedding, food and water remain clean.
The National Chicken Council’s trade group said the industry has already done several things to reduce Salmonella contamination, including spraying germ-killing agents on raw chicken during processing, improving sanitation and using more vaccines. Spokesman Tom Super said many poultry farmers are already taking action as recommended by the USDA.
The USDA said 89% of poultry processing plants in the country now meet agency requirements to restrict salmonella in chicken parts. This is more than three years ago, when only 71% of factories met the standard.
Turkish National Federation President Joel Brandenberger said the industry is already sharing ideas on the best ways to tackle Salmonella, so companies are looking forward to participating in USDA roundtables.
“Since there are no simple solutions, improving food safety requires an approach that is promoted by the USDA,” Brandenberger said.
Zach Corrigan of Food and Water Watch, an advocacy group that supports stricter food safety regulations, said the USDA’s new effort appears to be “a step in the right direction,” but he still hopes the agency will do more. to combat salmonella, stating that meat that contains bacteria cannot be sold to consumers.
The sale of raw chicken with Salmonella bacteria is now legal, which is why health officials are stressing the need for safe handling of raw poultry, including careful cooking of the meat to kill potential microbes. They also warn that people should not rinse raw chicken, as bacteria can be sprinkled all over the place.
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