The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA FSIS) is publishing revised guidelines to assist poultry processors in controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw food products and prevent cases of foodborne illness. This updated document, available December 14, is the fourth edition of the “FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry” and is intended to offer poultry companies best practices for minimizing pathogen levels and meeting FSIS’ food safety requirements.

“These guidelines take into account the latest science and practical considerations, including lessons learned from foodborne illness outbreaks in the last several years, to assist establishments in producing safer food,” said USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety, Al Almanza. “This new guide is one piece of FSIS’ Salmonella Action Plan and our effort to reduce Salmonella illnesses attributed to meat and poultry products by 25 percent in order to meet the nation’s Healthy People 2020 goals. By following the newer guidelines, poultry facilities can help us reach this important public health target.”

The new guide makes science-based suggestions for interventions that poultry companies can take on the farm (pre-harvest), sanitary dressing procedures, further processing practices, antimicrobial interventions and other management practices. These prevention and control measures represent the best practice recommendations of FSIS based on scientific and practical considerations. This guidance is particularly important in light of Salmonella outbreaks involving poultry products.

FSIS is seeking comment on the guidelines, which were last updated in 2010. A downloadable version of the compliance guidance is available online. The guidelines are also posted at the Federal eRulemaking Portal at www.regulations.gov, where comments can be submitted. Comments may also be submitted by mail addressed to: Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Patriots Plaza 3, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Mailstop 3782, Room 8-163A, Washington, DC 20250-3700. FSIS will accept comments 60 days from the date of the guidance publishing in the Federal Register.

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While rates of foodborne illness overall have fallen over the course of this century, Salmonella rates have remained relatively stagnant, prompting FSIS to take an all-hands on deck approach to addressing the pathogen in meat and poultry products. The guidance, along with development of new performance standards for raw chicken breasts, legs and wings as well as for ground and other comminuted chicken and turkey products unveiled in January 2015, are a major step in FSIS' Salmonella Action Plan. FSIS’ science-based risk assessment estimates that implementation of the new performance standards will lead to an average of 50,000 prevented illnesses annually.

Over the past six years, USDA has collaborated extensively with other federal partners to safeguard America's food supply, prevent foodborne illnesses and improve consumers' knowledge about the food they eat. USDA’s FSIS is working to strengthen federal food safety efforts and develop strategies that emphasize a 3-D approach to prevent foodborne illness: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery.

The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline +1.888.MPHotline (+1.888.674.6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day.