The USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) published the new standards (an update to guidelines published in 2008) last week. The allowable level of contamination for Salmonella in young chickens, or broilers, currently stands at 20% or no more than 12 samples out of 51. The new standard will be 7.5% or no more than 5 positive sample tests out of 51. The new guidelines address the problem of Campylobacter contamination in poultry, a first.
Current industry practices are pretty much in accord with the new guidelines already. After the guidelines have been in place for two years, Salmonella- and Campylobacter-related illnesses will drop by 26,000 and 39,000 thousand cases respectively, according to estimates from the FSIS.
The agency estimates that Campylobacter-contaminated broilers cause 400,000 illnesses per year, while Salmonella-contaminated broilers cause 220,000 illnesses over the same period. Given the higher numbers for Campylobacter, FSIS expects to see an even more dramatic turnaround in those figures, and expects to see a shift of about 25% of establishments that currently do not meet the standard to meet the standard, thereby preventing 39,000 illnesses. A similar shift of 7 to 8% of establishments to the new, tighter standards would result in 26,000 fewer illnesses due to Salmonella.
The California Poultry Federation and the National Chicken Council regard Salmonella and Campylobacter as naturally occurring organisms and their presence in the guts. Therefore safe handling and cooking instructions are printed on every package of raw poultry and meat sold in the United States.
Aporte: Andrea Martín