Funky Chicken No More? USDA to Revamp Inspections
Studies show that two-thirds of chickens are contaminated with salmonella, which would especially be troubling if we ate it raw.
The government says that changing inspection procedures should help. In a cost-saving measure, the federal government is revamping how it inspects birds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Friday that "it will be shifting its focus at chicken and turkey slaughter
plants from supervising processing lines to evaluating a company's food
safety procedures," reports Food Safety News.
The shift is to allow more inspectors to test plants' sanitation procedures and more testing of chickens for bacteria.
Though the shifts are voluntary from plant to plant, a few things are certain. Each plant has to have written rules to that ensure chickens contaminated with poop or pathogens don't go in the chiller. They must have procedures to prevent pathogen contamination. And they have to test early and often for microbial contamination.
The president of the Meat Institute, James Hodges, said, "While our knowledge has grown exponentially in the last two decades,
there have been no major changes to our federal poultry inspection
system during this period." So, not much.
Watchdog groups are skeptical of the changes. "USDA should modify its
inspection program carefully to ensure that the
program reduces the unacceptably high levels of Salmonella and
Campylobacter in chicken and turkey," Michael Jacobson, executive
director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, said Friday.
"One can't escape the fact that the government is shrinking and that
historic programs like this one need to demonstrate their value. The
proof will be in reduced contamination rates, leading to fewer deaths
In Florida, eggs are the only item more likely than chickens to transport salmonella, followed by vegetables, beef, and "multiple items."
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