The USDA will look at strengthening the rules around poultry processing to try to reduce instances of salmonella, the most common foodborne illness.
Measures proposed by the agency on Oct. 14 include increased testing, both of incoming birds and at several points during processing. The target will be the three salmonella serotypes, out of more than 2,500, that are responsible for most cases of salmonellosis. A possible additional measure will be setting maximum allowable levels for those serotypes.
Consumer advocates are urging the USDA to go further and declare salmonella an adulterant, as it did in 1994 with E. coli – a designation that would allow even stricter regulations.
More than 23% of salmonellosis cases come from poultry consumption. Increased testing starting in 2017 has cut the number of in-plant samples testing positive for salmonella in half, but hasn’t made a dent in the number of cases, according to the USDA.
The agency has scheduled a hearing on Nov. 3 to hear comments on the proposed new rules. Its goal is to have the new regulations ready in two years.