Friday, December 11, 2015

DeLauro Statement on USDA Report on Poultry and Salmonella



WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03) today released the following statement on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service’s revised guidelines assisting poultry processors in controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in raw food products and preventing cases of foodborne illness.

“As a new wave of food-borne illnesses affects the nation, families around the country are gathering for the holidays and are at risk of falling seriously ill from mishandled poultry. Salmonella is one of the most common causes of foodborne illness and is responsible for more hospitalizations and deaths than any other foodborne pathogen,” said Rosa DeLauro. “While the new guidelines issued by the USDA are an important step, the USDA should declare Salmonella an adulterant as part of their work to protect American consumers from foodborne public health threats. American consumers are counting on the USDA to use the authority it has to prevent unnecessary illnesses and deaths.”

Recently, a number of outbreaks of salmonella and other forms of food poisoning have prompted the USDA to release these updated food guidelines. Today’s updated document is the fourth edition of the “FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry” and is intended to offer poultry companies best practices for minimizing pathogen levels and meeting FSIS’ food safety requirements. The guidelines also include information regarding interventions companies can take on the farm, sanitary dressing procedures, processing practices, antimicrobial interventions, and other management practices.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that more than 48 million people suffer from food-borne illnesses each year. Approximately 3,000 people die while another 128,000 are hospitalized. In the latest high-profile outbreak of food poisoning, fresh cucumbers killed four Americans and left 157 others hospitalized

APHIS seeks comments on changes to GE wheat regulation


On September 25, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) published in the Federal Register a notice of request for comments on changes to requirements for field testing genetically engineered (GE) wheat. The comment period closed on October 26, 2015. USDA is announcing today its decision to require developers to apply for a permit for field trials involving GE wheat, beginning with GE wheat planted on or after January 1, 2016.

The decision to require growers to plant GE wheat under the more stringent permit process rather than the notification process employed in the past, will provide added protection that GE wheat will not persist in the environment after field trials are concluded, and will remain confined during the trials. APHIS regulations at 7 CFR part 340 specify that in order to be eligible for notification, a field trial must be conducted so the regulated article does not persist in the environment and no offspring are produced that could persist in the environment. In addition, when the field trial ends, no viable material shall remain which is likely to volunteer (grow following the harvest of a crop) in subsequent seasons. Bringing GE wheat under permit enables APHIS to create and enforce permit conditions that minimize the likelihood that the regulated GE wheat will spread or persist in the environment. APHIS already requires permits for many GE organisms, including all trees, perennial grasses and sorghum.

This action also strengthens the United States wheat export system. The permit reporting requirements help prevent possible unintended mixing with non-GE wheat that can have negative effects on trade, and reassures international trading partners that the U.S. is committed to being the world’s reliable supplier of grain.

More information regarding this decision is available at the following URL: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/biotechnology/downloads/wheat_permit_change.pdf.