The National Chicken Council released the following comment today on the announcement by the USDA Food Safety & Inspection Service of new performance standards for Salmonella and Campylobacter on raw chickens at the processing plant level:
“Food safety is the highest concern of the broiler chicken industry, and the industry will continue to work to improve the microbiological profile of raw chicken. The new Salmonella and Campylobacter performance standards are generally consistent with industry performance in recent years. However, it should be noted that the suggestion that human illness is directly linked to the microbiological profile of raw chicken is not very well supported by the data, since the prevalence of human disease from Salmonella has been going up in recent years while the presence of Salmonella on raw chickens has been going down.
“As always, industry will work hard to fulfill the expectations of the government, its customers, and most of all, of consumers in the United States and around the world for safe and wholesome chicken.
“These standards are for raw chicken. Cooking destroys these organisms. Safe handling and cooking instructions are printed on every package of raw poultry and meat sold in the United States. Additional information is available from sources such as the Partnership for Food Safety Education at www.fightbac.org.”
The National Chicken Council represents integrated chicken producer-processors, the companies that produce and process chickens. Member companies of NCC account for approximately 95 percent of the chicken sold in the United States.