Separate Reports Call Chicken Safety Into Question

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Chicken safety and federal agencies’ ability to ensure such has come under fire from two new reports that highlight the somewhat disappointing state of the industry.  The Los Angeles Times has related both findings in a new article.

The Pew Charitable Trusts report concerns itself more with addressing the lack of authority currently provided to the Food Safety and Inspection Services branch of the United States Department of Agriculture.

Recently, two outbreaks, one of which started in California, were tied to Foster Farms chicken that had been contaminated with Salmonella.  Pew notes that the FSIS failed to issue recalls on products tied to the outbreak.  They also reportedly failed to warn the public about the perceived threat posed by the first outbreak and allowed the company in question to continue production in the second instance even while the outbreak was ongoing.

Consumer Reports took a different approach, instead conducting tests on more than 300 chicken breasts to determine if those products were contaminated with the type of bacteria that could be dangerous if consumed by citizens.  Almost every single piece of meat tested was found to contain some type of bacteria, including Salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli, and enterococcus, a fecal contaminant found in nearly 80% of the tested products.

Both agencies are asking that the USDA be provided with broader powers that would allow them to compel recalls and better ensure the safety of the nation’s food supply.