National Chicken Council not so enthused about USDA salmonella effort

A scientist for the National Chicken Council today, Oct. 20, pledged to help the Agriculture Department with its efforts announced Tuesday to reduce foodborne illness from salmonella, but signaled less enthusiasm for the effort than a consumer-industry coalition expressed on Tuesday.

Ashley Peterson, the NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs, said in a statement, “While salmonella prevalence continues to decline, we recognize illness attributed to salmonella have not.”

“Even with very low levels of pathogens, there is still the possibility of illness if a raw product is improperly handled or cooked,” Peterson said.

“Increased consumer education about proper handling and cooking of raw meat must be part of any framework moving forward. Proper handling and cooking of poultry is the one thing that will eliminate any risk of foodborne illness. All bacteria potentially found on raw chicken, regardless of strain, are fully destroyed by handling the product properly and cooking it to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

“We pledge to continue to do our part — the industry will remain committed to investing significant resources — at the hatchery, feed mill, farm and plant — to further enhance the safety profile of chicken products. But there is no law, regulation or silver bullet that will make raw chicken a 100% sterile product.

“NCC looks forward to a seat at the table as this framework is developed and we will work to ensure that any decisions are based on sound science, robust data and research, and be proven to have meaningful impacts on human health,” Peterson said.

On Tuesday the Coalition for Poultry Safety Reform, a new group of individuals and organizations representing an array of interests and expertise related to poultry safety, welcomed the announcement. The coalition’s members include Butterball, Perdue Farms, Tyson’s and Wayne Farms.


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