USDA: Our Salmonella Detection System May be Flawed

A new study has found that “consumers could be exposed to salmonella-contaminated chicken at much higher rates” than otherwise suggested.

A new study has revealed that the US Department of Agriculture’s system for safeguarding against salmonella in chicken might be seriously flawed. Led by the department’s own scientists, the study identified a possibility of false-negatives in salmonella screenings carried out on carcasses. Current protocols call for carcasses to be sprayed with antimicrobial chemicals to ward off pathogens and dunked into another antimicrobial chemical solution before randomly selected carcasses are placed into a bag of liquid that leaches lingering pathogens. The liquid is lab-analyzed and, pending the absence of a certain amount of pathogens, serves to signify that a slaughterhouse’s chicken supply is safe for human consumption. The new study by the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, however, suggests that the myriad antimicrobial solutions carcasses are showered and bathed with aren’t adequately rinsed away, and trace amounts end up in testing bags where they continue to kill bacteria while testing awaits, leading to much lower final numbers than would exist on the production line. According to Mother Jones, while incidences of positive test results for salmonella on chicken carcasses are decreasing (3.9 percent in 2013 versus 7.2 percent in 2009), actual cases of salmonella infections in the past 15 years remain strong, exemplified by another USDA study that tested chicken samples from the end of the production line (butchered into pieces as opposed to the entire carcass) that found a positive rate for salmonella of 26 percent—six times more than the testing of carcasses. “[This] means consumers could be being exposed to salmonella-contaminated chicken at much higher rates than the [USDA's] carcass numbers suggest,” author Tom Philpott said.

More News

Cargill Invests in Plant-Based Protein

The animal agriculture feed supplier joins PURIS—the largest pea-protein producer in North America—in its mission to create sustainable plant-based foods.
Read More »

Muay Thai Fighter to Open Vegan Bakery in NYC

Vegan chef Watt Sriboonruang's Rawsome Bakery will land on Orchard Street in Manhattan—further veganizing a street occupied by vegan apparel company MooShoes and vegan store Orchard Grocer.
Read More »

Vegan Brand Breaks Indiegogo's Crowdfunding Record

Vegan meal shake startup Bear Brands raised more than $65,000 from 250 backers in the first day of its crowdfunding campaign.
Read More »

Playboy Playmate Amanda Cerny is Vegan

The former Playmate and current YouTube comedian confirms that she would never promote beef jerky to her 19 million social media followers because she is vegan.
Read More »

Luxe Department Stores Launch Decadent Vegan Menu

Harvey Nichols stores across the UK now serve upscale vegan dishes and wines at its seven locations.
Read More »

This Week on VegNews TV: The secret to these delightful sweet treats is white beans! Aylin Erman shows you how to make these simple blondies.

More Videos »