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USDA Makes Tough New Safety Standards For Chicken, Turkey

New, stricter standards placed on the chicken and turkey industries are predicted to prevent 25,000 cases of foodborne illness a year.


Photo: Carol Green (flickr)

Salmonella and Campylobacter in chicken and turkey are two of the most frequently contracted foodborne illnesses and can be lethal.

Cracking Down On Contaminated Meat

In an effort to fight foodborne illness, the USDA has just announced tougher food safety rules for chicken and turkey farms.

Poultry farms are already required to send samples of their chicken and turkey meat to the USDA for testing, but the USDA is now stricter about how many of those carcasses can test positive for salmonella and Campylobacter. While 20 percent of carcasses could test positively for salmonella and 40 percent for Campylobacter by the old rules, now companies are required to have no greater than 7.5 percent and 10 percent of the carcasses test positively for salmonella and Campylobacter respectively.

Salmonella and Campylobacter are the two most common foodborne illnesses and can be life threatening.

Feeling Better Already

Says Dr. Elisabeth Hagen, Under Secretary for Food Safety:

These improved standards will drive the industry to do better. They are tough but achievable. And when fully implemented, they will prevent tens of thousands of Americans from getting sick.

The Food and Safety Inspection Service estimates that the new standards will prevent 25,000 salmonella and Campylobacter illnesses each year.

These requirements, which update the old rules from 1996, are a result of President Obama’s Food Safety Working Group.

Read More:

  • USDA Sets New Standards for Reducing Foodborne Pathogens in Chickens and Turkeys, Preventing Up To 25,000 Illnesses (USDA)
  • Chicken, turkey may sicken 55K fewer under new USDA rules (USA Today)
Julie Rooney

Julie Rooney is a vegetarian, musician, and artist who primarily works in video and new media. Currently she is the director of Low Road Gallery, a non-profit contemporary art gallery located in Greencastle, Indiana.

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  • Steven

    Hey Julie -

    Interesting stuff! Two points to make:

    1: How does the USA Today article conclude that there will be 55k fewer chicken/turkey-borne illnesses while the USDA claims it will only be 25k? Are these two articles actually talking about different improvements to the regulations? The USA Today article is almost a year old while the USDA report came out just last week.

    2: It's interesting that the USA Today article says that salmonella levels in chickens were already 7.1% nationally in 2009. If the new standard takes the requirement from 20% to 7.5% but the chickens are already testing at 7.1%, how will this actually change the chicken in the grocery store? I totally like the idea of fewer salmonella cultures being allowed to get out, but am not sure how this regulatory change will prevent either 55k or 25k cases of illness.


    PS – it's a little gross that they refer to them as “carcasses”, but I guess that's the right term.

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