Food security is about people

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Posted by Sandra Eskin, USDA Assistant Undersecretary for Food Safety and Health

May 03, 2022

When the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced a new effort to reduce Salmonella in poultry, we led with the numbers. The number of illnesses due to Salmonella has not diminished over the past two decades. Year after year people got sick Salmonella infections at about the same rate. Each case of foodborne illness represents a person whose life has been affected. And among the most vulnerable – children, the elderly and those with underlying health conditions – these impacts can be severe and lead to physical, emotional and financial harm. These are the people who are always close to my heart and who motivate me to come to work every day.

The lack of progress towards our national public health goal to Salmonella disease reduction is a call to action. The USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), which is responsible for ensuring the safety of meat, poultry, and egg products, tests raw poultry products for Salmonella as part of its ongoing monitoring program. FSIS test data indicates that Salmonella poultry contamination has decreased, but we have not seen a corresponding reduction in human disease. This tells us that we need to do something different to reduce human disease.

My experience building coalitions as a consumer advocate has taught me that achieving our public health goal will take the combined efforts of innovative and committed people. I am proud to say that many of the people most eager to tackle this problem are within FSIS. I also reached out to industry, consumer advocates and academics to hear their ideas on how FSIS can reduce Salmonella diseases attributable to the consumption of poultry. We have seen great enthusiasm for this initiative and broad support from a wide range of stakeholders who want to help us make it happen.

We have already had extensive discussions with external stakeholders and within the agency as we gather information to help guide our new strategy. We learned about experiments, science and research on Salmonella in poultry to help us make the best proposals for a more effective approach to reducing Salmonella diseases. Learn more about FSIS efforts reduce Salmonella in poultry.

Category/Subject:
Health and security

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