Food (Safety) Fight
By: richard raymond
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Where's the change?

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(The views and opinions expressed in this blog are strictly those of the author.)

The White House Food Safety Working Group's (WHFSWG) "Key Findings" report has a section labeled "Cutting Salmonella Risk in Poultry Products".  Before that bullet, the report says "Two Federal agencies are now making progress to reduce illness caused by Salmonella."

Wow, I only wish it were true. I wish this were the "change" people voted for. But the WHFSWG fails to consider recent history, so I will attempt to do that here.


In August of 2005, FSIS convened a two day meeting in Athens, GA, to listen to consumer advocates, industry scientists, university researchers and FSIS employees on how best to reduce high rate of positive poultry carcass rinses testing positive for Salmonella.  As a result of that meeting, another two day meeting was convened in Atlanta, GA, on February 23, 2006, to announce the Salmonella Initiative and its eleven steps. Further enhancements to the initiative were announced in 2008.


As a result of the Salmonella Initiative, and the industry efforts, positive carcass rinses dropped from 16.3 % in 2005 to only 8.5 % in 2007.  Yet, this same MMWR report showed that food borne illnesses from Salmonella did not decline during the same time period.


Shortly after FSIS began to see the positive numbers decline, a new effort to establish a new standard for the Salmonella base line was initiated. The "Key Findings" says that FSIS is developing "new standards to reduce the prevalence of Salmonella in turkeys and poultry", yet that effort was begun under the previous administration, not the new one. So where is the "change" that will "reduce illness caused by Salmonella"? 


If dropping the rate of positive carcasses by nearly 50% did not reduce illness, then how is a new standard going to reduce illness? Maybe the "change" we need is testing of chicken parts and mechanically separated meat instead of carcasses? After all, when was the last time you bought a whole carcass?

7/28/2009 9:32 PM 


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