Government Testing of Chicken Shows Dramatic Jump in Salmonella in 2005

Statement of CSPI Food Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWaal

February 23, 2006

USDA test results announced today show that Salmonella rates in chicken increased almost 80 percent since 2000. In 2000, about 9 percent of chickens tested by USDA were positive for Salmonella but the new data show more than 16 percent testing positive.

Steady increases in Salmonella, including a 2.8 percent jump in 2005, mean that more chickens contaminated with Salmonella are going home with consumers than at any time since the mid 1990s. USDA is belatedly stepping up oversight of the poultry industry to try to reverse this trend, but it has stood idly by while processors have challenged the agency's authority in court.

Without legislation from Congress restoring USDA's authority to enforce microbial limits in the meat supply, the agency will simply flap its wings at Salmonella problems. More than a million people in the United States get sick from Salmonella infections each year, and more than 500 die. What the agency needs is authority to close down any meat or poultry plant that fails to meet performance standards.


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