Unlike E. coli and Listeria, Salmonella has avoided being labeled as an adulterant by the USDA, and therefore at-risk products such as those containing raw chicken have avoided some scrutiny. But with recent steps taken by the USDA's Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), change is on the horizon, and it will likely have a snowball effect. What should a poultry processor's next steps be?
April's proposal by the USDA to declare Salmonella an adulterant in breaded stuffed raw chicken products doesn't surprise many in the industry, who have seen this kind of development coming. One reason that this pathogen has been able to avoid "adulterant" status is because of the established understanding that poultry products need to be cooked fully in order to be safe for consumption. Breaded stuffed raw chicken products can appear browned and cooked before they are fully cooked, or can be mistaken for pre-cooked, so they are a natural early target for this kind of proposal.
The impact to the poultry industry will be substantial. If this proposed determination goes into effect, the traceability of testing of a variety of products will be crucial. Many companies rely on product testing being tracked manually on paper or in Excel which lacks any centralized management or searchability. This is where a Smart FSQ platform can help the industry; the Novolyze platform provides a place to not only document and track your environmental monitoring testing and any other testing that is performed, but also to search, analyze, and provide evidence of any incidents and their containment. Having an integrated, optimized platform to track when, where, and what was tested, with the ability to add comments and closed loop CAPAs, is a game-changer for Food Safety Management.
When a Salmonella sample is taken, it can be logged and pinpointed on a map where the production flow is represented. Managers can have all the information they need in one place, and the ability to document the disposition. When the USDA or an auditor asks for that documentation, there's no digging through filing cabinets; it's all in one place.
Another hurdle will be keeping up with the increased testing and ensuring it’s completed when it needs to be. A scheduling feature, such as that available on the Novolyze platform, allows samples to have a defined frequency and will automatically be added to the calendar. All relevant parties can view the calendar and identify if any samples have been missed, allowing for peace of mind. Reminder emails will also be sent to the team member to which the sample is assigned.
This announcement declaring Salmonella an adulterant in breaded stuffed raw chicken products represents an acceleration of changes that will undoubtedly affect the protein industry. Having the right tool to proactively manage your facility will be crucial to ensuring safe, efficient, and compliant operations with optimal throughput.