PITTSBURGH—During this year’s International Association for Food Protection Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, Sandra Eskin, USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety, announced that the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) will declaring all strains of Salmonella an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products.
The announcement came during a session at the meeting on August 1. Since 1998, breaded and stuffed raw chicken products have been associated with up to 14 outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses, according to USDA. Products in this category are found in the freezer section and include some chicken cordon bleu or chicken Kiev products. These products appear cooked, but they are heat-treated only to set the batter or breading and the product contains raw poultry. Continual efforts to improve the product labeling have not been effective at reducing consumer illnesses.
Breaded and stuffed raw chicken products will be considered adulterated when they exceed a very low level of Salmonella contamination and would be subject to regulatory action, according to USDA. FSIS will be proposing to set the limit at 1 colony forming unit (CFU) of Salmonella per gram for these products, a level that the agency believes will significantly reduce the risk of illness from consuming these products. The agency will also seek comment on whether a different standard for adulteration, such as zero tolerance or one based on specific serotypes, would be more appropriate.
The notice is expected to publish in the federal register in the fall and FSIS will be seeking public comments that address what the standard should be. Once published, the notice will be posted in the FSIS Federal Register and Rulemaking page for review and comment. When the proposal is finalized, FSIS will announce its final implementation plans and the date it will begin routine testing for Salmonella in these products.