USDA has future plans to consider whether Salmonella in chicken should be dealt with

This story by Coral Beach first appeared on Food Safety News and is reposted here with permission

The USDA is beginning to consider whether or not to consider if Salmonella in poultry should be considered a problem.

The department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced that it is “considering a regulatory framework” for a new strategy that would allow the agency to consider controlling Salmonella in poultry products. The goal, if things move forward, is to reduce human illnesses.

Every year at least 135,000 people are sickened by Salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of those illnesses, one-fourth are caused by the pathogen in chicken.

The potential framework described in the FSIS announcement has three prongs and an open ended time schedule.

Some who have been fighting for Salmonella to be declared an adulterant in poultry — making it illegal to sell chicken contaminated with it knowingly or unknowingly — are feeling lukewarm about the potential framework.

Bill Marler, a Seattle food safety attorney who three years ago filed a petition on behalf of several individuals and three consumer groups seeking to have Salmonella declared an adulterant, said the FSIS announcement reminded him of a 19970s TV commercial: “Where’s the beef?”

He said the proposal for a framework to consider studying the situation “dances around” the problem. He is concerned that the proposed framework is not bold enough. He is, however, glad to see some movement, any movement.

“This is the first public-facing document I’ve seen in more than 30 years that FSIS has put out there showing that they understand there is a problem,” Marler said.

Consumer Reports, one of the groups named in the petition filed by Marler, is also pleased at this first step by FSIS. The group said the announcement  “is an encouraging sign that the agency is stepping up its efforts to protect the public.

Salmonella contamination is all too common in poultry and poses a potentially deadly risk to consumers,” said Brian Ronholm, director of food policy at Consumer Reports. “It’s critical for the USDA to work expeditiously to adopt aggressive goals to sharply reduce Salmonella contamination and focus its efforts on reducing the strains that pose the biggest threat to human health.”

The citizen’s petition asked FSIS to declare 32 strains of Salmonella to be considered an adulterant. The FSIS is considering whether to review three of those strains.

Salmonella contamination is widespread in chicken in part because of the often crowded and filthy conditions in which they are raised, according to Consumer Reports. A recent CR investigation, for example, found almost one-third of ground chicken samples tested contained Salmonella

Consumer reports said the numbers are alarming and that the framework needs to go further.

“While the USDA currently requires producers to test poultry for Salmonella, a processing facility is allowed to have the bacteria in up to 9.8 percent of all whole birds it tests, 15.4 percent of all parts, and 25 percent of ground chicken. Producers that exceed these amounts are given what amounts to a warning, but not prevented from selling the meat,” according to the Consumer Reports statement.

By the FSIS’s own admission the number of illnesses caused by Salmonella in poultry has remained stagnant for decades. This is in the context that industry has reduced the amount of Salmonella found in poultry by 50 percent. Marler explained that anomaly in terms of a swimming pool.

“If you have a pool and you drain out half of the water you still have half a pool of water,” he said.

The water in the pool represents the amount of Salmonella in the chicken. There’s just too much of it left, even with the 50 percent of it gone, that makes people sick. That shows how much Salmonella is in chicken — too big of a bacterial load, as scientists say.

With the proposed FSIS framework the number of human illnesses caused by Salmonella in poultry would be decreased by 25 percent, meaning three out of four people who are sickened would still get sick. That is not acceptable in Marler’s opinion. 

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is pleased to see the attention to Salmonella in poultry but is cautiously optimistic.

“While the proposed framework represents a welcome shift in thinking by the agency, many important details are yet to be worked out, and the need for these changes is urgent,” CSPI said in a statement this morning.

“USDA’s announcement of this framework represents a landmark acknowledgment from an agency that has long refused to recognize that Salmonella in raw poultry poses unacceptable risks. Center for Science in the Public Interest first petitioned the USDA to ban certain strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in 2011, and again in 2014, but was denied twice by the agency.”

STOP Foodborne Illness is also happy to see some action out of FSIS on the decade-old problem of Salmonella in chicken.

“Stop Foodborne Illness (STOP) applauds FSIS for taking the first step of developing meaningful, comprehensive controls for Salmonella in poultry that includes an enforceable final product standard. The proposed framework reflects many issues raised by STOP and its coalition partners in our joint petition filed in January 2021,” said Mitzi D. Baum, M.Sc. and CEO of STOP.

One key point in the proposed framework for the possible FSIS strategy for dealing with Salmonella in poultry is to have the industry work out the problem. The framework calls for birds to come into “the establishments” cleaner. That means that people who raise chickens would have to send healthy birds to slaughterhouses and processing plants.

By putting pressure on “the establishments” to accept cleaner birds the government believes the slaughterhouses and processors would put pressure on their suppliers, thus resolving the problem.

Marler says the most significant point in the proposed framework is that it recognizes that dealing with Salmonella pre-harvest is necessary. Right now there is no industry incentive to fix the problem.

Consumer Reports agrees that testing so-called incoming birds is a crucial step.

“Under the proposal announced by the USDA, poultry producers would be required to test flocks for Salmonella before slaughter and provide documentation on Salmonella levels or serotypes to processing plants,” according to Consumer Reports’ statement. “The requirement is meant to incentivize plants to implement measures to reduce the Salmonella load in the final poultry product. USDA is also considering the adoption of a final product standard to ensure that poultry contaminated with Salmonella likely to make people sick is not allowed on the market.”

The framework itself 

A key point from the FSIS announcement is that the agency will be seeking comment from stakeholders on all of the elements of the framework —  both at a public meeting and in written comments submitted to the meeting docket in the Federal Register — before moving forward with any proposed changes to regulations or other actions.

After analyzing recent data on human illness from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and FSIS sampling results from chicken and turkey products, the agency has decided to focus at this time on three serotypes: Enteritidis, Typhimurium, and Infantis, which together cause 33 percent of all Salmonella illnesses. The public petition requested that 32 types be considered adulterants.

Excerpts from the three components of the framework

Component 1: Requiring incoming flocks be tested for Salmonella before entering an establishment

FSIS is considering requiring establishments to characterize Salmonella as a hazard reasonably likely to occur at receiving and that incoming flocks be tested for Salmonella before entering an establishment. 

Under this approach, the flock would have to meet a predetermined target for Salmonella at receiving, which may be industry-wide or establishment-specific, and the establishment must demonstrate that its subsequent process will be effective in reducing Salmonella so that the product will meet the final product standard. 

Salmonella enters an establishment in and on the birds. The goal of this component is to incentivize the use of pre-harvest interventions that reduce the level of incoming Salmonella contamination or mitigate the risk of a particular serotype entering the establishment.

Under this approach, FSIS does not intend to require the industry to adopt any specific pre-harvest interventions but would allow flexibility for the industry to adopt the practices that are most effective at controlling Salmonella in each particular operation. Establishments would be encouraged to work with their suppliers and contractors to ensure they are implementing best practices in reducing the Salmonella hazard in breeding facilities, hatcheries, grow-out and throughout transport.

Component 2: Enhanced Establishment Process Control Monitoring and FSIS Verification 

To ensure that poultry slaughter establishments are effectively controlling Salmonella throughout their operations, FSIS may propose to modify its current regulations to prescribe enhanced establishment monitoring procedures, including revised locations for multipoint sampling and the use of a statistical approach to process control.

The second component of this proposed framework builds on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP), FSIS’ prevention-based approach to food safety. To ensure pathogen control throughout slaughter and processing operations, FSIS may modify the existing requirements for indicator organism testing for process control and establish additional parameters to better define the required analysis of the data. As part of the proposal, establishments may be required to test for indicator organisms (e.g., aerobic plate count [APC], Enterobacteriaceae).

Component 3: Enforceable Final Product Standard

FSIS is assessing whether certain levels or types of Salmonella in raw poultry products present an elevated risk of causing human illness such that they should be considered adulterants. As a result, the agency is considering implementing a final product standard or standards to ensure that product contaminated with Salmonella that is likely to make people sick is not sold to consumers. 

To protect public health, FSIS regulations should prevent products with high levels of contamination and/or specific serotypes from entering commerce. This goal would be accomplished by declaring Salmonella an adulterant. In doing so, FSIS would rely on criteria that were applied to STECs. These criteria are: consideration of serotypes associated with human illness; low infectious dose; severity of human illnesses; and typical consumer cooking practices.

(Editor’s note) The reference to STECs, or Sign toxin-producing E. coli, relates to how the beef industry was forced to clean up its meat when E. Coli was declared an adulterant.

Consistent with its approach to determining the status of certain STECs as adulterants in specific raw beef products, FSIS is considering whether there are specific Salmonella and raw poultry product pairs that have characteristics that distinguish them from other raw poultry products contaminated with Salmonella, such that Salmonella at certain levels and/or types of Salmonella should be considered as an adulterant when present in that specific raw poultry product. 

For example, FSIS will soon be releasing a proposal that Salmonella meets the criteria to be considered an adulterant in not-ready-to-eat (NRTE) breaded and stuffed raw chicken products, an action that will allow the Agency to better protect public health. 

At the same time, FSIS is exploring if a single product standard for Salmonella in all raw poultry products may be appropriate. From a consumer’s perspective, exposure to a quantity and/or serotype of Salmonella likely to make them sick is a key risk factor for the illness that may be consistent across product types. 

Seeking public comment

FSIS is soliciting input on all aspects of the draft framework, related to the three components as well as the cross-cutting issues. An online copy of the proposed framework is available at:


Recalls and Alerts: March 23 – 25, 2017

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

United States

Allergy Alert: Nutiva expands its earlier recall of Organic Plant Based Protein Superfood 30 Shake – Vanilla to include all lots of both Vanilla and Chocolate flavored products due to undeclared peanut traces. Please refer to the recall notice for detailed product information. The recalled products were sold at Costco stores.

Allergy Alert: Whiskey Hill Smokehouse LLC (Hubbard, OR) recalls approximately 22,466 pounds of beef, venison and ostrich jerky products due to undeclared soy. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products, and to the California Department of Public Health for a list of retailers in the state who carried the recalled products.

Food Safety Alert: New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets warns consumers in Oneida County and the surrounding area not to consume unpasteurized raw milk from the Winters Grass Farm due to possible Listeria monocytogenes contamination. The advisory follows lab confirmation on March 22, 2017 of Listeria monocytogenes in a sample of unpasteurized milk from Winters Grass Farm. The producer is now prohibited from selling raw milk until subsequent sampling indicates that the product is free of harmful bacteria.

Food Safety Recall: Fred Meyer stores recall Manila Clams, Fr (Item Nos. 093820 and 093824) as the clams may have an unacceptable level of PSP (paralytic shellfish poison) as determined by samples tested by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

Food Safety Recall: Lake Farms Raised Catfish, Inc. recalls approx. 1,695 pounds of Siluriformes (Catfish) Fish products due to possible adulteration with Malachite Green and Leucomalachite Green. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of affected products.

Food Safety Recall: Ajinomoto Windsor, Inc. (Lampasas, TX) recalls JOSÉ OLÉ TAQUITOS BEEF CARNE DE RES IN CORN TORTILLAS Crispy and Crunchy (60-oz. plastic bags inside of a corrugated carton; case codes 3366365A, 3366365B, 3366365C, 3366365D; Best By date of December 30, 2017; Est. No. M-5590) two consumer complaints of foreign material in its ready-to-eat beef products on March 14, 2017 and March 21, 2017. The foreign materials were pieces of rubber with white plastic that originated from the establishments processing equipment. The recalled product was shipped to retail locations in California, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming.

Food Safety Recall: Pro Sports Club recalls 36,957 20/20 Life Styles brand Yogurt Peanut Crunch bars (2 oz. net wt.; lot code B.B. 22JUL17 (means best by July 22, 2017), UPC Code 78571 00052) because of possible contamination with E. coli O157:H7. The recalled product was manufactured using an ingredient supplied by SoyNut Butter Company.

Food Safety Recall: OK Food, Inc. (Oklahoma City, OK) recalls 933,272 pounds of ready-to-eat breaded chicken products (produced on various dates from Dec. 19, 2016 through March 7, 2017) after the company received five consumer complaints stating that metal objects were found in the ready-to-eat chicken products and by FSIS inspection personnel during verification activities.

Food Safety Recall: ChloroFields (Lawrence, KS) recalls Asian Mix Microgreens (1.5 oz clamshell; sell by date of 3/26/2017; UPC 853763007096) after FDA finds Salmonella in the finished product. The sprouted Microgreens were distributed throughout Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri, and were made available through retail grocery stores, including Whote Foods Markets.


Allergy Alert: Purposeful Excellence Inc. recalls Booby Boons Lactation Cookies – Chocolate Chip (168g; DEC31/2017) due to undeclared peanut. The recalled product was sold nationally and through Internet sales.

Allergy Alert: Traiteur AL-É-G inc. recalls various prepared dishes due to undeclared mustard and sulfites. Please refer to the recall notice for a complete list of products.

Food Safety Recall: Frankly Fresh Salads, Inc., and H.Y. Louie Co. Ltd. recall Chef Destinations, Frankly Fresh Salads and Fresh St. brands Fresh Guacamole (300g; Best before 17 MR 22) after the Canadian Food Inspection Agency discovers Listeria monocytogenes contamination in a sample of the product. The recalled products were sold at retail in British Columbia and may have been distributed nationally.

Food Safety Recall: Boucherie Mario Allen inc. recalls Lard au pots maison/Lard in glass jars (500 mL; all lots up to and including 22 March 2017) due to improper storage and labeling.

Food Recall: Gevinoth Yisroel Dairy Products recalls Fresh & Healthy brand Chunk Feta Cheese (227g; Product code JN 27 17; UPC 7 20742 26226 8) due to E. coli contamination. The product was available at retail in Ontario.


Allergy Alert (Denmark): Biogan A/S recalls LOOV Delicate Ginger Breads (120 g net wt.; Best by 29.03.2017) and LOOV boghvede Brunkager/LOOV Buckwheat Brown Cakes (120g net wt.; Best by 20.03.2017) due to undeclared gluten.

Allergy Alert (Ireland): The Porterhouse Brewing Company advises that Hersbrucker Pils (330 ml bottle; best before 05.10.2017) contains undeclared sulphur dioxide.

Allergy Alert (Sweden): Findus Sverige AB recalls Findus brand Skinkcrêpes/Ham crêpes (250g; Lot L7002VL6343; best before 06.2018 and Lot L7002VL6327; best before 05.2018) due to undeclared fish and seafood.

Food Safety Recall (Belgium): Mathonet-Gabriel s.a. recalls Mousse de Truite Saumonée Fumée (150g; Best by 04/04/2017; Lot M-0622) due to Listeria monocytogenes contamination.

Food Safety Recall (Denmark): Kakshidi Food Trading ApS recalls Lao Gan Ma Mushroom in Chili Oil (210g net wt.; Best before 17/10/2017) because the product may contain glass fragments.

Food Safety Recall (Ireland): Marks and Spencer recalls M & S Chicken & Vegetable Soup (600g; Use by 30/3/17; Product of UK) due to customer complaints of an off-taint.

Food Safety Recall (Luxembourg): Bonneterre et Cie recalls Bonneterre brand Camembert de Normandie au lait cru Bio/Normandy Camembert cheese made with organic raw milk (250g wooden pkg; Expiry 09/04/2017; Lot 039151) due to Salmonella contamiantion.

Food Safety Recall (UK): Marks and Spencer recalls Chicken and Vegetable Soup (600g; use by date 30 March 2017; product code 00711135) due to possible chemical contamination.

Food Recall (UK): Cleone Foods recalls Island Delight Jerk Chicken Flaky Patties and Island Delight Lamb Shortcrust Patties (140g; 26 March 2017) due to incorrect labelling.

Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands

Food Safety Recall (Hong Kong): The Centre for Food Safety announces a recall of all the frozen and chilled meat and poultry imported from 21 plants currently under investigation by Brazilian authorities.

Australia and New Zealand

Allergy Alert: Yummy Snack Foods recalls Yummy Mini Tub Yoghurt Sultanas (300;g Best Before 8/2/18) due to undeclared peanut. The product was sold at IGAs and independent supermarkets in NSW, QLD, VIC, SA and WA.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall website.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.

Recalls and Alerts: March 19 – 22, 2017

Here is today’s list of food safety recalls, product withdrawals, allergy alerts and miscellaneous compliance issues. The live links will take you directly to the official recall notices and company news releases that contain detailed information for each recall and alert.

If you would like to receive automatic email alerts for all new articles posted on eFoodAlert, please submit your request using the sidebar link.

United States

Outbreak Alert (Update): The New Mexico Department of Health reports that 226 confirmed and epidemiologically-linked cases of Shigella sonnei infection (shigellosis) have been identified in three southeastern counties of the state since May 2016. The cases, largely among preschool and school-aged children, occurred in Lea, Chaves, and Eddy counties. The Department of Health encourages parents to, where possible, not send their children to daycare or school when they are sick as it spreads shigellosis and other illnesses to other children and their families.

Outbreak Alert (Update): CDC reports that the outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses has expanded to 23 confirmed cases from 9 states. Twenty of the 23 victims are under the age of 18. Ten outbreak victims have been hospitalized, 7 of those have developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS). There have been no deaths. The outbreak strain of E. coli O157:H7 has been found in samples of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter collected from the homes of ill people in California, Oregon, and Washington, and in unopened containers of I.M. Healthy brand SoyNut Butter collected from retail locations in California. The company has recalled the affected products from both the U.S. and Canadian markets.

Outbreak Alert: The Pennsylvania Department of Health warns visitors and volunteers at the Heaven on Earth Farm animal rescue farm of an outbreak of Cryptosporidium infections associated with visits to the farm. Eleven people have fallen ill since February 14th; some of the victims were hospitalized, while others required out-patient treatment.

Allergy Alert: Riviana Foods Inc. recalls Ronzoni® Thin Spaghetti cartons (16-oz pkg; Manufacturing code JAN 20 19 K) that may contain an egg fettuccine product and may contain undeclared egg.

Food Safety Recall: H & B Packing Co., Inc. recalls 79,461 pounds of boneless beef products that may be contaminated with E. coli O103. Please refer to the recall notice for a detailed list of affected products. Some of the recalled product was available at Target and select Walmart stores.

Food Safety Recall: J & Y Dasung, Inc., (d.b.a. Som See Neh) recalls 78,335 pounds of frozen pork dumpling products that were produced without the benefit of federal inspection. Please refer to the recall notice for product details.

Pet Food Safety Recall: EuroCan Manufacturing recalls Barnsdale Farms®, Barnsdale Farms®-Select, Houndstooth® and Mac’s Choice® brands Pig Ears (individually shrink-wrapped, 6-pack, 12-pack and 25-pack bags; Lot #84) after routine testing detected Salmonella in a sample of the product. Distribution of the product has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation by the company and FDA. No illnesses have been reported at this time. Mac’s Choice Pig Ear 3 Pack and Snooter’s Pig Ear Value Pack (12 pack) were available at Wegmans stores.


Allergy Alert: Tessier dit Lavigne (Laval, QC) recalls Nut paste truffles (all batches) due to undeclared wheat, sesame, soy and sulfites.

Allergy Alert: La Reine Pâtisserie (Montreal, QC) recalls various pastries and baked goods due to undeclared sesame seeds. Please refer to the recall notice for details.

Allergy Alert: Salades et Mets Hanobak inc. (Montreal, QC) recalls Red Cabbage Salad (250g; All batches) due to undeclared sulfites).

Allergy Alert: Viandes Nada Extra inc. (Montreal, QC) recalls Spicy Beef Salami (450g) due to undeclared soy.


Allergy Alert (Germany): dm recalls dmBio apple with banana and millet (190g; Expiry 03.02.2019) due to undeclared due to undeclared gluten-containing grains (oats, spelled, barley).

Allergy Alert (Ireland): Lidl recalls Kania Pastillas / Cubos caldo de verduras /legumes / Vegetable Stock Cubes (120g; best-before: 27.12.2018; batch: L305145 7009AM) due to undeclared soybeans and celery. The product, which is labeled only in Spanish and Portuguese, may also contain lupin, mustard, sesame and cereals containing gluten as unintentional contaminants.

Allergy Alert (Northern Ireland): Craig Foods recalls Slemish Assorted Pastry (6-pack; All dates up to and including 24 April 2017) and Slemish Cupcakes (4-pack; All dates up to and including 20 April 2017) due to undeclared milk.

Dietary Supplement Safety Recall (Finland): Pro Nutrition Finland Oy recalls Prezone and Prezone stimulant-free dietary supplements because they contain an unapproved novel food. Please refer to the recall notice for full details.

Food Safety Advisory (Germany): The Bavarian Ministry of Consumer Protection warns the public not to consume certain Red Snapper fish fillet frozen from Vietnam, because the fish may contain algal toxins. Please refer to the advisory for additional details.

Food Safety Recall (Denmark): Sari Sari recalls Zean peanut butter (370g; 30/08/2018; Lot #01160802) due to the presence of aflatoxin in the product.

Food Safety Recall (Denmark): Bisca A/S recalls Snøfler (Best before 13/7-2017; Code #17047312; EAN barcode 5709364674609) due to a risk of metal fragments in the product. The recalled product was sold at Kvickly, SuperBrugsen, Brugsen, Dagli´/Lokal Brugsen, Fakta, Fakta Q, Irma,, Netto, føtex, bilka, Lidl, Rema1000, ABC Lavpris.

Food Safety Recall Update (Denmark): Nr. Søby Kød Engros AS recalls vacuum-packed Smoked Sausage (Produced 17-02-2017; Best before 18-05-2017) due to detection of Listeria in the product.

Food Safety Recall (Sweden): ICA recalls ICA Microwave Popcorn (3 pairs), ICA I love eco Microwave Popcorn (3 pairs), ICA Micropocorn (10 pack) and ICA Microwave Popcorn butter flavor (3 pack) because of an increased risk that the package is burned in the microwave oven. Please refer to the recall notice for additional details.

Food Safety Recall (Sweden): Axfood recalls Garant brand Microwave Popcorn because of an increased risk that the package is burned in the microwave oven. Please refer to the recall notice for additional details. Please refer to the recall notice for full details.

Food Safety Recall (Wales): Douglas Willis Ltd recalls CMR Burger, Chuck Burger, 6oz Halal Burger, Venison Burger, Venison Sausage, Pork Own Thick Sausage, Lamb & Rosemary Sausage, Gourmet Sausage, Gourmet Pork & Leek Sausage (Batch 17079; All Sausages packed on 20/3/2017 with Use By Date of 29/03/2017; All Burgers packed on 20/3/2017 with Use By Date of 26/03/2017) as they may contain small pieces of hard plastic.

Australia and New Zealand

Food Safety Recall (Australia): The Pork Pie Shop recalls The Pork Pie Shop Pork Pies and The Pork Pie Shop Ascot Pies (all batches) due to potential Salmonella contamination. The recalled pork pies were sold at butchers and small grocery stores in South Australia.

Some supermarket chains post recall notices on their web sites for the convenience of customers. To see whether a recalled food was carried by your favorite supermarket, follow the live link to the supermarket’s recall website.

*The Kroger umbrella encompasses numerous supermarket, marketplace and convenience store chains
**Includes Safeway, Vons, Pavilions, Dominick’s, Genuardi’s, Randalls, Tom Thumb, Carrs and Pak N’ Save.