NEW HAVEN, CT—Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) released the following statement today on the new Pew Charitable Trusts report Salmonella Regulation: How two recent outbreaks illustrate a failure to protect public health and the Consumer Reports’ article The High Cost of Cheap Chicken. DeLauro is a longtime champion for food safety and public health. In November, she and Congresswoman Louise Slaughter wrote an Op-Ed in The Hill calling on the Agriculture Department (USDA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Congress to fix our broken food safety system.
The safe food project of The Pew Charitable Trusts analyzed two multistate outbreaks of salmonella infections linked to chicken produced by Foster Farms, America’s sixth-largest chicken producer. “Over 500 people in 29 states and Puerto Rico were sickened by Foster Farms raw chicken products, many of them hospitalized, yet no recalls were issued and the facilities continue to operate,” DeLauro said. “It is outrageous that a bad actor is able to stay in business after USDA uncovered facility conditions that are a threat to the public health.”
Consumer Reports tested 316 samples of poultry sold at retailers in 26 states across the United States and found that 97% of the samples had harmful bacteria on them – half of those samples tested positive for at least one multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria. Nearly 12% tested positive for two or more multi-antibiotic resistant bacteria. “This is alarming, to say the least,” commented DeLauro. “Meat is continuing to leave poultry processing facilities contaminated with Salmonella and other pathogens. We should be fixing the source of the problem, not leaving it up to consumers to guess whether their next meal will send them to the hospital.”
Pew recommended stronger limits on salmonella contamination and testing, as well as better communication with the public. Among other proposals, Consumer Reports recommended USDA drop their proposed rule to increase maximum line speeds and reducing the number of USDA inspectors at slaughter plants.