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USDA Proposes New Standards to Reduce Salmonella in Chicken Parts

Credit Katie Brady / Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has found about half of ground chicken is contaminated with salmonella, and the agency is proposing new standards to reduce the bacteria by 30 percent.

The new rule would mean more testing, which John-Mark Hack says is more expense for the processor. He is a co-founder at Marksbury Farm Market in Garrard County.

“As a company that employs 36 Kentuckians, any additional expense is significant to us,” Hack said. “We’re not a mulit-million dollar, multi-national poultry processor that can easily absorb those kind of expenses.”

The USDA increased standards for whole chickens in 1996, but now knows the chance of salmonella increases as chicken is processed. The further processed meat like chicken wings and breasts make up 80 percent of the chicken available for purchase.

Meanwhile, Hack says Marksbury already works to make sure the food it processes is safe for consumption.

“It’s important that consumers understand that those businesses are fully focused on assuring the highest standards of food safety regardless of whether or not the government is telling them they need to do that,” he said.

The USDA says implementation of these standards would prevent around 50,000 foodborne illnesses annually nationwide.

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