USDA Strengthens Poultry Safety Standards

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced new performance standards aimed at reducing incidence of Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and turkeys, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture conference call on Monday.

WASHINGTON — Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack [2] has announced new performance standards aimed at reducing incidence of Salmonella and Campylobacter in young chickens and turkeys, according to a U.S. Department of Agriculture conference call on Monday.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service estimates that the new Campylobacter standards will prevent 39,000 illnesses during the first two years, while 26,000 illnesses will be prevented under the new Salmonella standards during that time.

"There is no more important mission at USDA than ensuring the safety of our food, and we are working every day as part of the president's Food Safety Working Group to lower the danger of foodborne illness," Vilsack said in a prepared statement. "The new standards announced today mark an important step in our efforts to protect consumers by further reducing the incidence of Salmonella and opening a new front in the fight against Campylobacter."

The new standards are the first ever established for Campylobacter, while the Salmonella standards mark the first time those rules have been revised since 1996. The standards are currently open for public comment and have yet to be enacted, but President Obama's Food Safety Working Group has set a goal of having 90% of all poultry establishments meeting the revised Salmonella standard by the end of 2010.

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