By Richard L. Lobb on Jan. 9, 2012
from www.meatingplace.com — reprinted by permission
USDA’s Food Safety & Inspection Service will launch its long-awaited microbiological study of raw chicken parts this month, aiming to collect enough data to help set pathogen reduction performance standards for chicken breasts, wings, drumsticks and other parts. USDA standards are now based on whole chicken carcasses.
The baseline will last about six months, the agency said. The study will provide the government and the industry with “data concerning the prevalence and quantitative levels of selected foodborne pathogens and microorganisms that serve as indicators of process control,” FSIS said in a notice released Monday. The notice is available at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPPDE/rdad/FSISNotices/04-12.pdf.
USDA inspection personnel in each participating plant will collect samples of raw, unfrozen parts, shake them up in solution to get rinsate, and ship bottles of rinsate to a laboratory in Texas.
The lab will test the samples for Salmonella, Campylobacter spp., Enterobacteriaceae, generic Escherichia coli, coliforms, and aerobic plate counts (APC), FSIS said.
“These data will enable the agency and industry to target interventions and effectively work toward reducing the risk of foodborne pathogens in FSIS-regulated products,” the agency said. “FSIS expects to establish pathogen reduction performance standards for chicken parts based on the results of this survey.”
FSIS has been preparing for the study for two years, including a “shakedown” training period that has now concluded, the agency said. It directed the inspector in charge (IIC) of each participating plant to meet with plant management to inform them of the study and its purposes.
“The IIC is to emphasize to establishment management that individual results of the microbiological sampling from the RCPBS will not be the basis for regulatory actions,” the agency said.
Samples will be requested approximately twice per month in the large-volume plants and approximately four times every three months in smaller-volume establishments, the FSIS notice said. Samples will be collected from all production shifts over the course of the baseline if an establishment produces parts on more than one shift, it added.
Along with collecting samples, USDA personnel will note the speed at which slaughter lines operate and the use, if any, of sanitizing interventions such as chlorine, acidified sodium chlorite, TSP, or several others, either pre-chill or post-chill.