Proposal to Make Salmonella an Adulterant in Breaded Stuffed Raw Chicken

April 27, 2023
Bread Dressing Stuffed in a Raw Chicken from Adobe Stock Photo #50759922

News Release from USDA | FSIS

Summary of the Announcement from the USDA and FSISBreaded Stuffed Chicken Breast photo from Adobe Stock #106379103

On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) released a proposed determination to declare Salmonella an adulterant in breaded stuffed raw chicken products when they exceed a very low level of Salmonella contamination. This announcement is a significant first step that builds on FSIS’ proposed regulatory framework to reduce Salmonella infections linked to poultry products, released in October 2022. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that Salmonella bacteria cause approximately 1.35 million human infections and 26,500 hospitalizations in the United States every year. Of those infections, over 23% are attributed to poultry consumption. Foodborne illness can have a devastating impact, both personally and financially, on people’s lives, the cost of which reverberates through the economy. Data from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) show the total cost for foodborne Salmonella infections in the United States is a staggering $4.1 billion annually and the cost for the loss of productivity to the economy is $88 million. These are real costs to real people that can and should be prevented.

Bread Dressing Stuffed in a Raw Chicken from Adobe Stock Photo #50759922

“USDA is taking science-based, decisive action to drive down Salmonella illnesses linked to poultry products,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “Today’s proposal represents the first step in a broader effort to control Salmonella contamination in all poultry products, as well as a continued commitment to protecting American consumers from foodborne illness.”

Under this proposal, FSIS would consider any breaded stuffed raw chicken products that include a chicken component that tested positive for Salmonella at 1 colony forming unit (CFU) per gram prior to stuffing and breading to be adulterated. FSIS is also proposing to carry out verification procedures, including sampling and testing of the chicken component of breaded stuffed raw chicken products prior to stuffing and breading, to ensure producing establishments control Salmonella in these products. 

Breaded stuffed raw chicken products are pre-browned and may appear cooked, but the chicken is raw. These products are stuffed with ingredients, such as a raw vegetable, butter, cheese or meat such as ham. The products are typically cooked by consumers from a frozen state, which increases the risk of the product not reaching the internal temperature needed to destroy Salmonella. In addition, it may be difficult for a consumer to determine an accurate internal temperature of these products because they contain multiple ingredients that may cook at different rates.

Click here to read the full USDA Press Release.

* Adulterant [a·dul·ter·ant] - The Federal Meat Inspection Act (FMIA) and the Poultry Products Inspection Act (PPIA) define “adulterated food” to be a food that “bears or contains any poisonous or deleterious substance which may render it injurious to health; by in case the substance is not an added substance, such article cannot be considered adulterated under this clause if the quantity of such substance in or on such article does not ordinarily render it injurious to health.” Products that are found to be adulterated cannot be legally sold in the United States. In other words, declaring a pathogen an adulterant in a particular food product means there is zero tolerance for that pathogen in that food product.