The War on Salmonella
The FSIS continues its war on Salmonella, and processors should expect that the emphasis in coming years is less on the details of sanitation or hazard control, and more on sampling and data.
While some food safety advocates have asked for salmonella to be declared an adulterant, which would necessitate a zero-tolerance approach similar to that applied to Shiga Toxin E. coli, the USDA has instead pursued a piecemeal strategy to reduce salmonella contamination in poultry. In December of 2013, the FSIS released its Salmonella Action Plan, a suite of programs intended to improve poultry (and pork) production, inspection practices, and Salmonella education. The agency now says that it has “accomplished the commitments made in the Plan,” but the direction of those efforts still provide a clue as to its thinking on how best to tackle the problem of Salmonella. FSIS only began testing raw and ground poultry products in recent years, and we predict that the agency will widen its testing scope and continue to place increasing importance on testing data.
Further demonstrating the FSIS commitment to salmonella reduction via testing, new swine inspection standards would include “enteric pathogens." As the only enteric pathogen of concern in swine is salmonella, FSIS is trying to change federal law to control for pathogens in raw pork products. This is a radical departure from previous forays into swine slaughter establishments, but in line with the approach to beef (controlling Shiga Toxin E. colis) and poultry (salmonella and campylobacter).