Attributable to Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., National Chicken Council vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs:
“Food safety is the top priority for companies that produce and process chicken products in the United States, and the industry prides itself on an excellent track record of delivering safe, affordable and wholesome food both domestically and abroad. According to the most recent FSIS Quarterly Progress Report:
- For the first quarter of 2008 through the first quarter of 2014, the industry has reduced the occurrence of Salmonella on whole chickens by 63 percent;
- Since FSIS began testing chicken for Campylobacter in 2011, the industry has reduced the incidence by 30 percent.
“But we’re working every day to improve. Since the fall of 2013, NCC and our members have been collectively exploring all options to reduce contamination on chicken parts in order to provide the safest product possible to our consumers, including strengthened sanitation programs, temperature controls and various interventions in chicken processing. This is something the industry has been proactively working to address, so when the performance standards for chicken parts are put in place by FSIS, we will be meeting or exceeding the standards, as we currently do for whole carcasses.
“We look forward to reviewing the proposed new federal standards in their entirety and providing comments to the agency.
“Even though we’ve collectively made tremendous progress in reducing Salmonella on raw chicken to all-time low levels, the fact is any raw agricultural product, whether its fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or poultry, is susceptible to naturally occurring bacteria that could make someone sick if improperly handled or cooked. Our members are investing heavily in food safety research and are using the best science, research and technology available to break the chain of Salmonella at every stage of production. Coupled with continuous USDA inspection and proper handling and cooking to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, chicken is safe to eat 100 percent of the time.”