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DeLauro Reiterates Call by Consumer Groups, Illness Victims, Scientists, and Industry Leaders for USDA to Reform Poultry Food Safety

September 2, 2021
Press Release

NEW HAVEN – House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement after a broad and unprecedented coalition of consumer groups, illness victims, poultry industry leaders, academic scientists, and state regulators wrote to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack to call for a new, science-based regulatory approach to poultry food safety:

“Part of USDA’s core mission is to protect Americans and their families from dangerous illnesses spread by meat and poultry. Yet, current USDA standards do not differentiate between the riskiest products contaminated with the most harmful, antibiotic-resistant bacteria and those that are free of harmful pathogens. As a result, all poultry products, regardless of risk, can be stamped ‘USDA inspected and passed’ and sent out into the food system for consumers to eat. That is unacceptable.

“For too long USDA has lagged behind the best food safety science and modern prevention practices. This failure to control recurring outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella in poultry has resulted in the number of people infected by foodborne illnesses remaining high for decades now. It is time for USDA not only to respond to outbreaks but to control dangerous pathogens before they sicken Americans, with standards that are enforceable and cover the food supply chain from farm to fork.

“Today’s announcement is historic because I know how rare it is for consumer groups, victims of foodborne illness, leading scientists and members of regulated industry to align around a common goal. This is a moment for USDA to make genuine improvements to our food system, which will benefit all consumers and their families.”

DeLauro has previously pushed government agencies and industry to act to prevent antibiotic-resistant Salmonella outbreaks in poultry products. Earlier this year in an Appropriations budget hearing, DeLauro pressed Secretary Vilsack to consider petitions to the Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service to reform the Agency’s outdated performance standards with enforceable standards.