WASHINGTON, DC (February 4, 2016) Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) and Louise Slaughter (NY-25) today released the following statements on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s  finalization of new federal standards to reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as in raw chicken breasts, legs, and wings.

“While the new federal standards announced by the USDA are progress in fighting foodborne illnesses, implementing these standards alone is not enough to keep American consumers safe. The USDA should immediately declare Salmonella as an adulterant as part of their work to protect consumers and reduce public health threats,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “The facts are clear: Salmonella and Campylobacter continue to have a significant human and economic cost on Americans every year. We can more effectively respond and prevent these outbreaks, but the USDA must do more. American consumers deserve it.”

“The USDA may have updated their rules, but the public's health is still at risk. Under the new finalized rule, USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service will allow potential disease in poultry products that risk the health of the American people,” said Congresswoman Slaughter. “Salmonella and Campylobacter are known disease-causing bacteria and the new rule guarantees they will continue to be present in processed chicken and turkey products compounded by the fact that some poultry processing plants have line speeds of 175 birds per minute. Even by the USDA's own estimate, there are 360,000 illnesses attributed to regulated products and while this rule reduces those numbers, we should not be satisfied until we bring these preventable illnesses down to zero. “

Last year, DeLauro and Slaughter reintroduced the Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act, which would strengthen the ability of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to keep Americans safe from contaminated meat, poultry, and eggs. Currently, the USDA will only issue a recall if a meat, poultry, or egg product is considered “adulterated,” which is ambiguously defined in current law. Because of that ambiguity, USDA claims they do not have the authority to issue recalls for meat, poultry, or egg products.