I was reading Foster Farms Press Release following FSIS’s release of its “Salmonella Action Plan.” I’m impressed with Foster Farm’s commitment to lowering the percentage of tainted chicken heading out of its plant. But it does beg the question – If you can take it from 15.4% to 5%, why not 0%? Here is the Press Release:
In conjunction with today’s announcement by the United States Department of Agriculture Food Safety Inspection Service USDA-FSIS regarding a proposed 15.4 percent standard for Salmonella prevalence in raw poultry parts, California poultry producer Foster Farms has reaffirmed its commitment to maintaining Salmonella prevalence levels below 5 percent. Foster Farms has maintained an average Salmonella prevalence level of two percent for the last nine consecutive months. This performance record is the result of a $75 million food safety program launched in 2013.
“We support the USDA in taking this critical step to advance food safety across the poultry industry,” said Foster Farms President and CEO Ron Foster. “Foster Farms has made a tremendous investment to ensure that our practices represent the very best in the industry. We stand by our commitment to lead the industry with Salmonella prevalence levels of less than 5 percent. We remain dedicated to continuous food safety advances.”
Prior to today’s FSIS announcement, there was no established regulatory standard for raw poultry parts, though the most recent 2011-2012 reported industry average was 25 percent. Foster Farms has worked closely with the USDA, CDC, poultry industry and retailers to share its learnings in controlling Salmonella in the interest of creating a safer food supply system nationwide. The company continues to draw on the best food safety advice in and outside of the poultry industry through its Food Safety Advisory Board.
In 2013, Foster Farms implemented a $75 million food safety program that effectively reduced Salmonella system-wide from the breeder level, to the farms where the birds are raised and to the plants where the chicken is processed and packaged. This included improvements to equipment and processes, the implementation of a continuous testing program and food safety education.
Foster Farms’ multi-hurdle program has been credited by the CDC and the USDA for its consistent control of Salmonella in raw chicken. The company has also been recognized for its leadership in controlling Salmonella by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, a champion of improved food safety. Based on the program’s success, Foster Farms is actively sharing data and insights with other poultry and meat producers. As part of this collaboration, Dr. Robert O’Connor, Foster Farms’ Senior Vice President for Technical Services, leads a National Chicken Council committee on Salmonella reduction at the parts level and has informed retailers in their development of vendor protocols.