FSIS Establishes New Pathogen Standards In Poultry

FSIS has developed new pathogen reduction performance standards for control
of Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria in chilled carcasses at young chicken
(broiler) and turkey slaughter establishments that are eligible for agency
verification sampling. FSIS has had standards for Salmonella but not for
Campylobacter. These new standards respond to certain key recommendations of the
President’s Food Safety Working Group to reduce the prevalence of
disease-causing bacteria, Salmonella and Campylobacter, in poultry.

The new performance standards are based on analysis of data from recent FSIS
baseline sample collection programs for young chickens and turkeys. FSIS will
issue a Federal Register notice in the very near future that will provide
specific details concerning the new standards. The Federal Register notice will
also provide a full account of the development of these performance standards
and their estimated public health impact. In addition, it will invite comments
from the public. The agency will evaluate the comments and make necessary
changes to the standards in response to those comments in a subsequent Federal
Register notice. FSIS intends to implement the new standards by July 2010. The
subsequent Federal Register notice will announce the implementation date.

FSIS has set a goal that 90 percent of covered establishments will meet the new
standards for Salmonella bacteria by the end of calendar year 2010. The new
Salmonella performance standards will limit the number of positive samples that
are acceptable in a defined set, as compared to past standards. The new
Campylobacter standards will also limit the number of positive samples that are
acceptable in a defined set. The laboratory procedures for Campylobacter
specifically detect samples with high numbers of organisms. Limiting high
numbers of Campylobacter bacteria in carcasses is important because this
pathogen does not grow under normal handling temperatures, and thus products
with higher initial contamination are relatively more hazardous.

FSIS will implement a verification testing program in establishments, similar in
design to the agency’s current testing program, and use the results as one
measure of establishment process control for reducing exposure of pathogens to
the public. The agency has found using pathogen reduction performance standards
in this way to be effective in encouraging improved establishment control of

Draft Guidance for Cattle and Poultry Slaughter Establishments

The agency will also post on its Web site in the very near future draft
compliance guidelines on known practices for pre-harvest management to reduce E.
coli O157:H7 contamination in cattle. These guidelines will focus on the
prevention of E. coli O157:H7 through reduced fecal shedding on the farm and
during live animal holding before slaughter. FSIS will also post on its Web site
the draft third edition of compliance guidelines for poultry slaughter. It will
include additional pre-harvest recommendations for controlling Salmonella and
Campylobacter in poultry. Both documents are priorities for the President’s Food
Safety Working Group.

FSIS will announce the availability of these guidelines in the Federal Register
notice that will announce the new standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter.
FSIS will also invite comments on both guidance documents through the Federal