USDA pressed on Salmonella testing accuracy

By Joseph James Whitworth

- Last updated on GMT

The members wrote a joint letter to the US Department of Agriculture and asked questions based on the findings
The members wrote a joint letter to the US Department of Agriculture and asked questions based on the findings

Related tags Microbiology

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been urged to revise pathogen testing protocols after a study found antimicrobials used as processing aids may lead to false-negative results.

US Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Dianne Feinstein and Representatives Rosa Luisa DeLauro and Louise Slaughter wrote to USDA Secretary, Thomas J. Vilsack in response to the research​ which suggested three antimicrobial sanitizers commonly used to reduce pathogens on poultry carcasses may cause false-negative results for Salmonella.

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro said studies calling into question the safety of the nation’s poultry processing are ‘deeply troubling’ and highlight a ‘major deficiency’ in the food safety system.

“The USDA must take these studies seriously and take immediate action to ensure that we are not masking the threat of Salmonella.”

Given the diversity of processing plants and results of the Broiler Carcass Rinsates study, the members are calling on the USDA to ensure the use of chemical sprays and dips do not create false negative test results.

When asked about the study results for an earlier article​, A USDA-FSIS spokeswoman told FoodQualityNews it is confident that testing results yield accurate outcomes.

“Data shows we are making progress when it comes to confronting Salmonella and protecting American consumers. FSIS is taking additional steps to ensure data quality and integrity of our pathogen tests.”

Senator Gillibrand said there should be no place to question testing results in poultry.

“The USDA should provide a thorough risk assessment and respond to the recent scientific findings of false-negative results to ensure we can remain confident in the safety of the food we buy for our families.”

Louise Slaughter pressed for a response to be sure the USDA is doing everything it can to eliminate false-negative results and protect public health.

“We should never have to worry that the food we put on our plates could expose our families to dangerous Salmonella infection because of possibly faulty testing methods by the USDA.”

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