A million Americans a year are sickened by foodborne Salmonella, and current food safety policies and regulations don’t do enough to reduce these illnesses, particularly those from poultry products. Americans are falling ill from Salmonella-contaminated food at rates virtually unchanged from those in 2000, and chicken is still frequently linked to outbreaks.1
Federal data from the past two decades underscores the lack of meaningful progress in reducing these infections. They also suggest ways that food regulators and producers can better protect consumers by targeting Salmonella contamination and serotypes, or varieties, in the poultry supply chain earlier and more precisely. The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS)—the U.S. Department of Agriculture agency overseeing meat and poultry safety—should update its policies and regulations to apply these lessons and lower the rates of foodborne disease.
In a promising move, USDA officials announced plans in Oct. 2021 to pilot and study innovative strategies that could help decrease poultry-related Salmonella illnesses. “Time has shown that our current policies are not moving us closer to our public health goal,” said Sandra Eskin, who as deputy under secretary for food safety is leading the initiative. “It’s time to rethink our approach.”
Goal Set, Not Met
Foodborne Salmonella causes an estimated 1 million illnesses and 19,000 hospitalizations each year.2 In 2010, the federal government set a goal to cut the nation’s incidence rate by 24% over a decade to 11.4 cases per 100,000 people—which the nation’s food producers and regulators are not yet close to meeting.3