U.S.D.A.’s New Performance Standards Should Bring Safer Poultry to Market

Media Contacts

Congress Must Reinstate Strong Enforcement Powers

Arizona PIRG

The U.S. Department of Agriculturehas announced new performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter — the most common disease hazards in the meat and poultry supply. The USDA has cut the target levels for Salmonella in poultry by over 60 percent, and set the first-ever performance standard for Campylobacter.

Arizona PIRG’s Executive Director Diane E. Brown had the following statement:

We applaud USDA Secretary Vilsack for announcing these important and long overdue changes to improve the safety of poultry products. Pathogens like salmonella and campylobacter cause millions of illnesses each year. Beginning in July, poultry processors will be operating under a stricter testing standard for Salmonella, and for the first time, the same products will be evaluated for Campylobacter, the most common foodborne pathogen in poultry.

Chicken and turkey will be safer once these standards are implemented, especially if retailers avoid companies named by the USDA as needing improvement. To ensure that consumers are protected to the greatest extent possible, Congress should reinstate the USDA’s authority to enforce performance standards by closing failing plants.