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Consumer Reports: USDA Salmonella poultry plan lays out new steps toward meaningful reforms to reduce illness

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today is announcing a new initiative to reduce Salmonella illnesses associated with poultry products.  

FSIS will set up pilot projects for new ways of testing salmonella in poultry plants and working with industry to reduce the amount of bacteria on chickens before they enter plants.  The agency will gather data and information from researchers, consumers, industry and other stakeholders. This new, coordinated effort is aimed at moving the nation closer to USDA’s national target of a 25% reduction in Salmonella illnesses. 

Brian Ronholm, Director of Food Policy for Consumer Reports and former Deputy Under Secretary, Food Safety, at USDA, said, “Secretary Vilsack and Deputy Undersecretary Eskin should be commended for embracing important leadership roles on this challenging issue. To reduce Salmonella illness rates, we need a comprehensive and collaborative effort to modernize our regulatory system. Today’s announcement by USDA is an important first step toward meaningful reforms for safer poultry. Consumer Reports is pleased to be a part of the Coalition for Poultry Safety Reform, and serve as a resource for ideas throughout the stakeholder engagement process.

“Some consumers have told us they feel like they have to handle chicken like it’s toxic waste, and that’s not how anyone wants to cook in the kitchen.  We’re hopeful that these steps laid out by USDA will result in more consumer confidence about the safety of the poultry products they bring into their homes,” Ronholm added.

For many years, Consumer Reports has urged USDA to take steps to reduce the risks of deadly bacteria in poultry.   CR’s recent investigation —  The Quest for Safer Chicken — looks at the challenges and potential solutions, and offers advice for consumers to stay safe.


Contact: David Butler, david.butler@consumer.org