Monitoring Software for Shifting Salmonella Regulations

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Salmonella is historically known as a potential hazard in raw poultry, but the pathogen was not declared an adulterant in chickens until recently. While federal sampling has recently confirmed a downward trend in Salmonella in chicken, Salmonella infections have not declined over the last 20 years. To combat this trend, the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recently unveiled a proposal for declaring Salmonella an adulterant in not ready-to-eat (NRTE) breaded stuffed chicken products. The proposal is a component of the agency’s regulatory framework for reducing Salmonella in poultry and represents a significant paradigm shift in the federal approach to controlling this pathogen[1]

Not ready-to-eat (NRTE) breaded stuffed chicken products contain raw chicken meat and are commonly stuffed with multiple ingredients (e.g., raw vegetables, cheese, ham), which may be cooked at different rates.  The NRTE products have been linked to 11 Salmonella outbreaks in the United States since 1998, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  A recently published CDC study indicated that Salmonella was detected in a median of 57% of cultured samples of NRTE chicken collected from homes and retail stores associated with ten outbreaks during 1998-2022[2]

Under the FSIS proposal, federal inspections will conduct verification activities, including sampling and testing raw chicken components before breading and stuffing. The agency would enforce a limit of 1 colony forming unit (CFU) of Salmonella per gram of chicken. If a chicken component is “confirmed positive” with Salmonella levels of 1 CFU per gram or higher, then the raw component would be considered adulterated and must be diverted to a use other than NRTE breaded stuffed chicken products. FSIS is accepting public comments on the proposal until July 27, 2023.

Since the proper cooking of NRTE chicken products destroys Salmonella, the pathogen was not previously recognized as an adulterant in raw poultry.  The decision to declare Salmonella an adulterant in a specific product category of chicken product could have implications for future food regulations. Will the policy shift in the regulation of Salmonella in raw chicken be extended to other raw ingredients or food categories?  

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[1] USDA Proposes Declaring Salmonella an Adulterant in Breaded Stuffed Raw Chicken Products. USDA. (n.d.).

[2] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2023, May 4). Salmonella Outbreaks Associated with Not Ready-to-Eat Breaded, Stuffed Chicken Products - United States, 1998–2022. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.






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