The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has developed new test methods that will hopefully stop more salmonella and Campylobacter contaminations in the nation's poultry products. These tests are updates to methods of inspection that have been in place since 1957.
USDA officials hope that additional testing for common bacteria will spot outbreaks of foodborne illness before products are shipped to stores. They want companies and producers to accept the responsibility of ensuring their products are safe before consumers ever have a chance to purchase them. The idea, according to the USDA, is to allow inspectors on production lines to focus more on food safety than on quality control. This is a significant shift in the inspectors' roles – that's why they have made opting into additional inspections voluntary for now. The new rules will also slow production down to allow more time to be spent checking each product for bacteria. The USDA estimates that the use of this system will prevent 5,000 foodborne illnesses yearly.
This line of tests is part of the Food Safety Inspection Service's Salmonella Action Plan, a series of updates to poultry safety standards aimed at reducing the number of poultry contaminations in recent months. The agency does not yet have an estimate on how many companies will adopt the new procedures, but they are optimistic that businesses will be eager to state that they have taken extra caution to provide customers with safe food products. In the meantime, new standards on other meat and poultry products are under development and should be announced later this year.
Even with increased food safety standards, accidents can still happen and food can still be contaminated. If you or a loved one were hurt by a tainted product, you may have a case.
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