USDA implements tighter oversight of ground poultry

December 10, 2012

After two Salmonella outbreaks linked to ground turkey sickened at least 148 people in 2011, the U.S. federal government has decided to implement stricter pathogen controls for raw ground poultry products. The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) has announced in a policy statement that all manufacturers of raw ground turkey or chicken foods must update their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) plans in order to address potential dangers highlighted by the 2011 outbreaks. These plans are designed to minimize contamination by targeting the riskiest parts of the production process and implementing safety measures at these points. All meat and poultry plants have been required to have a HACCP plan in place since 1996.

The FSIS will begin verifying that the plans have been updated starting in 90 days. This notice also describes how FSIS will determine whether the association of not-ready-to-eat meat or poultry product with an outbreak would make subsequently produced like-product adulterated.

In addition, the FSIS is expanding its Salmonella Verification Sampling Program for Raw Meat and Poultry product to include all forms of non-breaded, non-battered “comminuted” poultry—chicken or turkey that has been mechanically separated or deboned and then further chopped, flaked, minced, or somehow reduced in particle size product. Previously, only ground poultry was tested for Salmonella.

Finally, the FSIS is likely to develop Campylobacter standards for these products following validation of an analytical method.

You can submit comments on this notice. All comments must be received by March 6, 2013.

Notice (pdf)