An unprecedented coalition of consumer groups, illness survivors, poultry industry leaders, academic scientists, and other food safety leaders are seeking a meeting with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to make a united case for a modernized, science-based regulatory approach to ensure the food safety of poultry products.
Poultry producers Butterball, Perdue Farms, Tyson Foods, and Wayne Farms aligned with four consumer groups—the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, and Stop Foodborne Illness—on key poultry food safety principles and jointly asked for modernized USDA poultry food safety standards that are “objective, risk-based, achievable, enforceable and flexible” enough to adapt to evolving science.
Illnesses from Salmonella and Campylobacter, which are commonly found on poultry, account for 70 percent of the foodborne illnesses tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These bacteria sicken 3 million people and cost about $6 billion annually. While the federal government set targets for decreased Salmonella and Campylobacter infections as part of its Healthy People 2020 goals, released in 2010, the U.S. failed to meet those targets. Rates of illnesses caused by Salmonella and Campylobacter have remained essentially unchanged.
Besides officials at the companies and the consumer groups, the request to Vilsack was signed by several survivors of foodborne illness, the Association of Food and Drug Officials, Mike Robach, former Cargill food safety quality and
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