NCC Responds to Center for Science in the Public Interest Report on Meat and Poultry Safety
Washington, D.C. – “Rigorous food safety standards are applied to all chicken produced in the United States, and all chicken products must meet or exceed these safety standards set forth by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) in order to reach consumers,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs at the National Chicken Council.
“The bottom line for consumers is that all chicken is safe to eat when properly handled and cooked,” she said. “Consumers can continue to feel confident about including chicken as a lean, low-fat and high-protein part of a healthy, balanced diet.”
The poultry industry takes very seriously any human illness attributed to the consumption of a poultry product. Poultry companies have invested tens of millions of dollars in technology and other scientifically validated measures to enhance the safety profile of chicken products. Continuous inspection and testing by USDA has demonstrated the long-term success of these interventions in providing a safe, wholesome and affordable protein for consumers.
Peterson added, “In an effort to continue our progress towards reducing foodborne illnesses, we believe that the poultry inspection system should be modernized to transition to a model that is more science and risk-based.”
Peterson noted that from 2001 to 2010, the latest 10-year period for which data are available, outbreaks related to E. coli, Salmonella, and other dangerous pathogens decreased by more than 40 percent, according to CSPI’s own analysis. Additionally, CSPI clearly states that the illness data they use represent only a “small fraction of likely cases,” thereby biasing their data set from the start. Scientifically, if a complete data set were used and evaluated instead of evaluating only hand-selected data, the results would be quite different.
Over the past several years, most instances of Salmonella outbreaks have been related to melons, lettuce, salads, fruit, sprouts, tomatoes or other fresh produce, according to U.S. government data. “That is why it is an important reminder that all raw agricultural products – whether its produce, fruit, meat or poultry – could contain bacteria that might make someone sick,” Peterson said.
It is always important to consistently follow safe food handling and cooking practices. There are steps people can take in the home to significantly reduce any risk:
- Clean — Wash hands and surfaces often.
- Separate — Don’t cross-contaminate. Use a separate cutting board for raw chicken. Do not rinse raw poultry in the sink.
- Cook — Cook to proper temperatures. For chicken it is 165 degrees Fahrenheit measured by a meat thermometer. If served undercooked poultry in a restaurant, send it back to the kitchen for further cooking.
- Chill — Refrigerate promptly.
“Instructions for safe handling and cooking are printed on every package of meat and poultry sold in the United States – when followed, one can be assured of a safe eating experience every time,” Peterson concluded.
- For additional information on safe handling and cooking practices, visit:
- USDA’s Safe Steps in food handling, cooking, and storage
- The Partnership for Food Safety Education’s The Fight BAC!® Web site
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854)