A decision has been taken by USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), whereby in the near future, all poultry carcasses affected by Avian Leukosis will be deemed as a “trimmable condition” without enforcing the need to condemn entire carcasses.
This concept was spearheaded in a March 1, 2019 petition sent to the FSIS by the National Chicken Council (NCC). The petition specifically contained the following statement: “to treat lesions that could be suspected as being caused by avian leukosis as a trimmable condition and not a condition that requires whole bird condemnation.”
Further elaborating on this matter, the petition addressed that “Amending the regulations is supported by scientifically and economically sound rationales: avian leukosis does not present a food-safety risk, modern understanding of the avian disease is much more advanced than when FSIS first developed its policy, the condition is not a systemic disease, modern vaccination and breeding programs have all but eliminated avian leukosis, and amending the regulation would reduce unnecessary regulatory burdens.”
As per the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS), the first 300 birds of any incoming flock are checked for signs of avian leukosis.
Assistant Administrator Rachel Edelstein of the FSIS Office of Policy and Program Development informed the NCC on July 16th that this petition has been accepted and passed.
“After careful consideration, FSIS has decided to grant your petition,” she wrote. “We have determined that current scientific evidence supports treating avian leukosis as a trimmable condition and that the actions requested in your petition would reduce regulatory burdens on the industry. A description of the proposed rulemaking initiated in response to your petition is included in the Spring 2020 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.”
The Chicken Council’s petition offered this explanation for the change:
In summary, the FSIS avian leukosis check and whole bird condemnation requirement serve no meaningful public health purpose, and continuing to mandate these requirements reflects outdated inspection practices that are not scientifically sound given today’s understanding of leukosis and modern flock management practices. A scientifically based inspection system should treat avian leukosis consistent with any other trimmable condition where establishments are required to remove any visible lesions, regardless of whether they are associated with leukosis or another condition.”
The NCC was first established in 1954 in Richmond, Virginia, and previously called National Broiler Council. The switch to NCC came about in 98, to further shed light on their activities and products involved.
It is a non-profit trade association and serves as the main representative of the U.S. broiler chicken industry in Washington, D.C. The association itself has a multitude of crucial roles and responsibilities, namely to influence important legislative and regulatory policies and government programs that affect the poultry sector; relay with Washington policymakers and the media regarding all aspects of the sector, be it from production, processing, and end-products; influence domestic and international trade policy to maintain and expand foreign markets for U.S. chicken, and promote and protect the image and reputation of the industry.
Some of its members include chicken producers/processors (of which they constitute about 95% of chicken produced in the U.S), distributors and other industry partners.
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