Pathogen reduction in ground poultry a challenge
Updating standards for preventing poultry contamination vital for the future
In his presentation titled, Overview of the State of Poultry Inspection Today and Changes Needed to Impact Public Health, Dr. Richard Raymond, former undersecretary for food safety for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, observed that the poultry industry has a unique challenge. This challenge involves the pathogen reduction in carcasses and in ground poultry meat. Raymond made these observations during the New Approaches to Ground Poultry Pathogen Reduction program held during the 2014 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The program was sponsored by U.S. Poultry & Egg Association.
According to Raymond, there has been a reduction in whole bird carcass contamination. However, mechanically separated meat still continues to have a high degree of contamination, with next steps requiring standards for mechanically separated chicken and turkey. He also expressed the need for the poultry slaughter system to be updated. Raymond shared that since 1998, much has been done as a result of the implementation of HACCP. However, there is always room to improve.
In her presentation on Poultry Food Safety Management, Christine Summers, director of global food safety and quality for Costco Wholesale, shared that Costco's "…endpoint is to offer a safe product for its customers." She commented that "it is much better to prevent than deal with problems," and this philosophy is part of Costco's poultry food safety management plan.
Summers remarked, "We inspect what you expect. We do quality checks to have a uniformity ratio."
While the government has certain requirements, Costco has further regulations such as microbial testing of incoming raw material such as ground poultry, as well as other ingredients like spices, extracts and seasonings for meat.
In the panel discussion on Alternatives to Make a Positive Impact on Public Health, Dr. David Goldman, chief medical officer for USDA-FSIS-OPHS, explained how FSIS is making an effort in reducing pathogens in comminuted and other poultry products through the Healthy People 2020 program. The program's objectives are to have a 25 percent national goal reduction in Salmonellosis, as well as a 33 percent national goal reduction in Campylobacter, by 2020.
Dr. Robert Tauxe, from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), noted that the CDC's main function is to detect and investigate outbreaks. Tauxe shared that there are around 120 foodborne outbreaks reported annually, which is attributed to Salmonella. It is CDC's responsibility to find clusters of cases and common sources of information about the outbreak.
Other presentations focused on thinking outside the box and investing time in understanding Salmonella's behavior in order to implement novel controls from farm to fork.