USDA’s FSIS announced new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products

New Standards to Help Prevent an Estimated 50,000 Illnesses Annually

WASHINGTON, 2016-Feb-05 — /EPR Retail News/ — The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) today announced the finalization of new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as in raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings. Based on scientific risk assessments, FSIS estimates that implementation of these standards will lead to an average of 50,000 prevented illnesses annually.

As part of this move to make chicken and turkey items that Americans frequently purchase safer to eat, FSIS has also updated its microbial testing schedule at poultry facilities and will soon begin posting more information online about individual companies’ food safety performance.

“Over the past seven years, USDA has put in place tighter and more strategic food safety measures than ever before for meat and poultry products. We have made strides in modernizing every aspect of food safety inspection, from company record keeping, to labeling requirements, to the way we perform testing in our labs,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “These new standards, in combination with greater transparency about poultry companies’ food safety performance and better testing procedures, will help prevent tens of thousands of foodborne illnesses every year, reaching our Healthy People 2020 goals.”

FSIS uses pathogen reduction performance standards to assess the food safety performance of establishments that prepare meat and poultry products. By making the standards for ground poultry tougher to meet, ground poultry products nationwide will have less contamination and therefore result in fewer foodborne illnesses. FSIS implemented performance standards for whole chickens in 1996 but has since learned that Salmonella levels increase as chicken is further processed into parts. Poultry parts like breasts, wings and others represent 80 percent of the chicken available for Americans to purchase. By creating a standard for chicken parts, and by performing regulatory testing at a point closer to the final product, FSIS can greatly reduce consumer exposure to Salmonella and Campylobacter.

“This approach to poultry inspection is based on science, supported by strong data, and will truly improve public health,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety Al Almanza. “The new performance standards will complement the many other proactive, prevention-based food policies that we’ve put in place in recent years to make America’s supply of meat and poultry safer to eat.”

For chicken parts, ground chicken, and ground turkey, FSIS is finalizing a pathogen reduction performance standard designed to achieve at least a 30 percent reduction in illnesses from Salmonella. For chicken parts and ground chicken, FSIS is finalizing a pathogen reduction performance standard designed to achieve at least a 32 percent reduction in illnesses from Campylobacter. Because FSIS has found the prevalence for Campylobacter in ground turkey to be already low, the reduction for this product is estimated to be 19 percent.

After these standards were proposed in early 2015, FSIS began to use routine sampling throughout the year rather than infrequent sampling on consecutive days to assess whether establishments’ processes are effectively addressing Salmonella and Campylobacter. Once establishments have completed a full set of testing under the new standards, the agency will also begin posting online which facilities pass, meet or fail the new standards.

An estimated 1.2 million foodborne illnesses are thought to be caused every year by Salmonella, with approximately one-third or 360,000 of those illnesses attributed to FSIS-regulated products. In 2013, the agency released a Salmonella Action Plan, which created a blueprint for the agency to address this pathogen of significant public health concern. Today’s announcement fulfills the major steps that FSIS had outlined in its plan.

Over the past six years, USDA has collaborated extensively with other federal partners to safeguard America’s food supply, prevent foodborne illnesses and improve consumers’ knowledge about the food they eat. USDA’s FSIS is working to strengthen federal food safety efforts and develop strategies that emphasize a three-dimensional approach to prevent foodborne illness: prioritizing prevention; strengthening surveillance and enforcement; and improving response and recovery.

Some of the other steps taken to improve the safety of meat and poultry include adopting a zero-tolerance policy for raw beef products containing six additional strains of shiga-toxin producing E. coli; ensuring that beef products that have been mechanically tenderized are labeled as such and include validated cooking instructions; implementing a new “test and hold” policy in 2012, which significantly reduces consumer exposure to unsafe meat products; and working closely with FDA and CDC to collectively form the Interagency Food Safety Analytics Collaboration (IFSAC), which focuses on projects related to foodborne illness source attribution and will try to improve the classification of foods implicated in foodborne disease outbreaks.

Consumers with food safety questions can “Ask Karen,” the FSIS virtual representative available 24 hours a day at AskKaren.gov or via smartphone at m.askkaren.gov. The toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline 1-888-MPHotline (1-888-674-6854) is available in English and Spanish and can be reached from l0 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Eastern Time) Monday through Friday. Recorded food safety messages are available 24 hours a day. The online Electronic Consumer Complaint Monitoring System can also be accessed 24 hours a day at: www.fsis.usda.gov/reportproblem.

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Morrisons Campylobacter results for the whole of 2015 below the 7% FSA target

Bradford, England, 2015-11-13 — /EPR Retail News/ — Since 2013 we have been working hard to reduce Campylobacter levels in fresh chicken. We have introduced a Campylobacter reduction plan which, following independent tests has shown significant improvements year on year. Our results for the whole of 2015 are below the 7% FSA target.

We understand that campylobacter can be a concern when it comes to fresh chicken. However there are simple steps you can take to minimise the risk of food poisoning. Do not wash poultry, use separate utensils and surfaces for raw and cooked foods and ensuring poultry is thoroughly cooked.

At Morrisons we have listened to the concerns about high levels of campylobacter found on some fresh chickens and since 2013 we have made significant progress in tackling campylobacter throughout our supply chain.

The facts

Campylobacter is a common bacteria found on raw chicken

Campylobacter is destroyed if chicken is cooked thoroughly

As a bacteria, xampylobacter can be transferred on to any surface that raw chicken contacts

Food Standards Agency (FSA) advice is don’t wash raw chicken

Information about campylobacter and food safety can be found on the FSA website http://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/campaigns/campylobacter

What we’ve achieved

We have worked with our suppliers to introduce a detailed Campylobacter Action Plan which has successfully reduced campylobacter levels on fresh chicken.

We have established our own monitoring program, carried out by an independent accredited laboratory, which has been in place since 2013. Our tests are based on a larger sample size than the FSA survey and results show levels of campylobacter steadily reducing.

As a result of our Campylobacter Action Plan we have seen a consistent reduction in campylobacter levels and significant year on year improvement. This year our results show that on average only 4.8% of chickens tested have the higher levels of contamination compared to the FSA retail target of 7%

We are working closely with the FSA and regularly provide updates on our own results and performance

What’s next?

While the results of our reduction programme are extremely encouraging we are not complacent and we will continue to work closely with the FSA and our suppliers to reduce the presence of campylobacter even further.

Morrisons Campylobacter Action Plan 2015

From the farm to your kitchen, we have studied the journey of fresh chicken and introduced range of measures to combat campylobacter.

At the farm

1. Every farm supplying Morrisons with chicken is audited to ensure improved levels of Bio-security are in place. The farms are audited frequently to ensure compliance and to drive continuous improvements. Additionally enhanced levels of Bio-security training for Farm and Catching teams have also been implemented across our supply base.

2. A program of improved modernised design is being implemented for farm buildings to enhance bio security – this is a long term continuous process

3. Morrisons is trialling financial incentives for farmers who keep their flocks free from Campylobacter.

4. Morrisons continue to investigate the effect of not thinning on a number of supplying farms (thinning is the selective removal of birds during the growing cycle) – the process of thinning potentially impacts on bio-security).

Processing

1. Morrisons is committed to only use suppliers with demonstrable Campylobacter reduction plans. One of our suppliers has invested £25m in recent months.

2. Morrisons has developed its own ‘Slaughterhouse Campylobacter Best Practice Standard’ and have audited all our whole bird suppliers against it. This systematically reviews evisceration and carcase washing standards in the slaughterhouse to drive continuous improvement across our supply base.

3. Process innovation is being implemented across our supply base for example:

  • a. Our major chicken supplier has just installed a Sonosteam system. This steam/ ultrasound system has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce Campylobacter levels.
  • b. In December our other main supplier is installing a secondary scalding process which has been scientifically proven to significantly reduce Campylobacter levels.
  • c. Our main supplier has installed UV equipment to further reduce the risk of Campylobacter being present on the whole bird packaging.

4. Morrisons are working with its key suppliers on other processing interventions including, Rapid Surface Chilling.

5. A programme of improvements has been driven in factory process flows and handling procedures, to better segregate product and sealed packs to minimise the possibility of the outside of our packs being cross contaminated with Campylobacter.

Packaging

1. Our robust Food Messaging on pack informs the customer:

  • Do not wash poultry
  • Store raw meat covered at the bottom of the fridge
  • Use separate utensils and surfaces for raw and cooked foods or wash thoroughly in between use
  • Wash hands after handling raw meat and poultry
  • Unwrap and dispose of packaging carefully

2. We have robust packaging on our poultry products to minimise the risks of cross contamination in store or at home

3. For customers who prefer not to directly handle the chicken we have introduced cook in the bag chickens across half of our range

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SOURCE: Wm Morrison Supermarkets plc

Tesco to further reduce the levels of Campylobacter in its fresh chicken

  • Tesco, with suppliers, is committed to minimising levels of Campylobacter by 2017
  • Tesco has consistently been the only major supermarket with a significantly lower level of Campylobacter in its chicken compared to the industry average

CHESHUNT, England, 2015-7-16 — /EPR Retail News/ — Tesco has today pledged to further reduce the levels of Campylobacter in its fresh chicken. Building on the progress made in recent years, working in partnership with its suppliers to tackle the industry-wide issue, the retailer has set a new target for levels of the bacteria.

From 2017, suppliers who provide poultry to Tesco will work with the retailer to meet a new specification which will see the numbers of chicken contaminated by Campylobacter at the highest level fall to five per cent. This will be the first time a retailer has made its specification so challenging.

Although Campylobacter is destroyed by thorough cooking, and all raw poultry sold by the retailer displays safe handling information on packaging, as well as cooking instructions to promote correct cooking procedures, the retailer wants to provide customers with the safest possible chicken.

The move comes after Tesco was found to be the only major supermarket to have consistently lower rates of chicken contaminated with the bacteria than the industry average, according to the Food Standards Agency  (FSA) year-long retail survey of poultry to monitor Campylobacter levels.

Tesco’s Group Quality Director Tim Smith said: ‘Providing high quality, safe food is always our absolute priority. It has long been our commitment to reduce levels of Campylobacter in our poultry and we are now seeing real progress at all stages of the supply chain, in tackling the issue through the work we have done with our suppliers.

‘We want to remain at the forefront of any developments to improve the quality and safety of our chicken and believe that interventions, which are currently being trialled across the industry, will enable levels to be reduced even further.  We have therefore agreed with our suppliers that by 2017, at least 95% of chickens supplied to Tesco will have minimal levels of Campylobacter in line with the new limits that we are including in our specification.

‘Whilst we acknowledge that there isn’t a single solution to address Campylobacter, we are confident that we will deliver this target.’

In recent years, Tesco has worked closely on a number of initiatives with poultry suppliers to improve the safety of fresh chicken for customers, including:

  • The development of biosecurity standards which are now widely used across the industry
  • Funding the first farmer incentive programme which rewards farmers who keep their flocks free of Campylobacter
  • Working with producers to examine the impact of stocking densities on the incidence of the microorganism
  • Funding the development of best practice guidelines on the handling of chickens during processing
  • Introducing measures to minimise the incidence of contamination on the outside of packaging in 2011
  • We are developing our own processing standard against which all of our suppliers will be independently audited

Ursula Lavery, Moy Park Technical Director said: ‘Reducing Campylobacter remains a top priority for Moy Park.

‘We have been delivering industry leading work in this area and are totally committed to building on the successes we have already achieved in recent trials and through our supply chain interventions.’

Ends

 

Notes to Editors

  • Tesco’s new specification will require that Campylobacter will not be present at the highest level of >1000 cfu per gram in at least 95% of whole chickens on its shelves
  • Tesco updated its chicken packaging at the end of last year to ensure food safety messaging was more prominent and will continue to look for ways to raise awareness amongst customers about safe handling practices.
  • In 2014 the supermarket sponsored an industry wide event to review progress and enhance collaboration which led to the establishment of the ACT Board.
  • Tesco is the only one of the main retailers which has a lower incidence of chicken contaminated with Campylobacter at the highest level (>1000 cfu/g), compared to the industry average.https://www.food.gov.uk/science/microbiology/campylobacterevidenceprogramme/retail-survey
  • Moy Park is a leading provider of fresh, locally farmed poultry in the UK and Ireland and is one of the largest producers of organic, free range and corn fed poultry in Europe. Moy Park supplies leading retailers and foodservice providers throughout the UK, Ireland and Europe with a range of high-quality, fresh, coated and added value poultry products.

For more information visit www.moypark.com.

For more information please contact the Tesco Press Office on 01992 644645
We are a team of over 500,000 people in 12 markets dedicated to providing the most compelling offer to our customers.

Morrisons: significant drop in the number of the whole chickens showing high levels of campylobacter

Bradford, England, 2015-5-28 — /EPR Retail News/ — Morrisons has announced a significant drop in the number of its whole chickens showing high levels of campylobacter. Testing results since the start of 2015 (Jan – April) show a level of just 2.3 per cent compared to 11.3 per cent during the same period last year. The new figure is significantly lower than the Food Standard Agency’s (FSA) industry target of 10.0 per cent (7.0 per cent in store).

The supermarket has been undertaking its own testing for more than a year and the results of those tests have been shared with and verified by the FSA.

Morrisons said: “We take food safety extremely seriously and are committed to reducing any risk to customers. We have looked at what really helps reduce campylobacter and we have made some significant changes including bringing in a new supplier.

“The results of our reduction programme are extremely encouraging but we are not complacent. There is still work to do. We will continue to work closely with the FSA and our suppliers to reduce the presence of campylobacter even further.”

Steve Wearne, FSA Director of Policy said: “This is very welcome news from Morrisons and goes to show that campylobacter levels on chicken can be significantly reduced by targeted interventions across the production process. People can be rightly pleased because the simple fact is that the less campylobacter there is on chicken the fewer people will get ill. I’m also pleased that Morrisons have indicated they are in this for the long term and we at the FSA will of course continue to work closely with Morrisons to ensure the levels of campylobacter on chicken reduce further.”

Morrisons has made the following changes:

  • A review of its whole bird business based on campylobacter reduction performance resulting in a new supplier being brought in
  • The development of a set of standards on chicken slaughter and preparation. Suppliers are regularly checked to ensure they meet that standard
  • The introduction of clearer consumer messaging on packaging for the handling and preparation of chickens, including a strong ‘Do not wash’ instruction
  • The introduction of roast in the bag whole chickens
  • One chicken supplier has introduced a scheme that incentivises farmers if their flocks are free from campylobacter
  • Investigating the use of new technologies with suppliers including rapid chilling and ultrasound

Morrisons is also represented on the board of ACT (Acting on Campylobacter Together), a collaboration across the industry designed to share initiatives and developments in tackling campylobacter.

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