miércoles, 11 de diciembre de 2013

FSIS launches a new Salmonella reduction plan

An estimated 1.3 million illnesses can be attributed to Salmonella every year.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service released today a plan to reduce Salmonella in meat and poultry products, a priority coming into tighter focus as another outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg has sickened hundreds across the country.
The Salmonella Action Plan prioritizes modernizing the poultry slaughter inspection system. Shifting FSIS inspectors to more offline, food safety duties will prevent at least an estimated 5,000 illnesses each year, the agency said.
An estimated 1.3 million illnesses can be attributed to Salmonella every year.
“Far too many Americans are sickened by Salmonella every year. The aggressive and comprehensive steps detailed in the Salmonella Action Plan will protect consumers by making meat and poultry products safer,” said Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen, whose resignation from her post at FSIS will take effect mid-December.
The new plan prescribes enhanced sampling and testing programs that take into account “the latest scientific information available” and emerging trends in foodborne illness. Inspectors will “be empowered with the tools necessary to expeditiously pinpoint problems.” Equipped with more information about a plant’s performance history and better methods for assessing in-plant conditions, inspectors will better be able to detect salmonella earlier, ostensibly before it can cause an outbreak.
The plan also outlines several actions FSIS will take to foster new innovations toward lowering contamination rates, including establishing new performance standards; developing new strategies for inspection farm to table; addressing all potential sources of  Salmonella; and focusing the agency’s education and outreach tools on Salmonella.
The strategy announcement comes as FSIS, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other health agencies continue to wrestle with an outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg linked to three Foster Farms chicken plants in California. The outbreak has sickened nearly 390 people in 23 states.
Earlier impetus was provided also by an outbreak in 2011 of the same strain emanating from ground turkey that sickened 136 people in 34 states and forced Cargill to recall 36 million pounds of product.
FSIS followed with strengthened performance standards for salmonella in poultry, with a goal of significantly reducing illnesses by 20,000 per year. Through the Salmonella Initiative Program, plants currently are using processing technologies designed to directly reduce the pathogen in raw meat and poultry, and prevalence in broilers has dropped by more than 75 percent since 2006, FSIS said.


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