Bill Marler, a personal injury attorney, has filed a petition with the USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), urging the agency to classify dozens of strains of salmonella as “adulterants” in meat.
If USDA grants the petition, then if any of the salmonella strains are detected on raw meat at any level, the meat would be recalled and the facility found in violation of food safety regulations.
Marler’s petition fails to recognize several key facts. First, salmonella can be in the animal’s lymph nodes, and thus can be found on the meat even if there was no fecal contamination. Second, many of these same strains of salmonella have been found in raw produce, which, unlike raw meat, is often not cooked before eating. And, third, salmonella has an “infectious dose.” In other words, people don’t get sick from exposure at extremely low levels.
In addition, rather than trying to identify the areas of greatest risk, Marler’s petition includes every strain of salmonella that has made anyone sick in the last two decades, listing 31 different strains of salmonella! Creating a zero-tolerance policy for all of these strains doesn’t make sense. And it is all too likely to push some small-scale processors out of business because of the extensive testing that would be required to implement the new policy.
Salmonella in raw meat is a serious issue. But what we need is more meat from pasture-based operations processed in small- and mid-scale processors. Over and over, we have seen that the greatest risk comes from the huge numbers of animals being processed too quickly at large facilities.
Please join us in urging USDA to reject Marler’s petition.
You can submit comments until midnight on March 23, 2020 at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=FSIS-2020-0007
Your comments can be very short
and simple, just a few sentences.
Below is a sample comment, but you will have the greatest impact by writing your own – just use this one for ideas.
I urge USDA to reject the petition to classify 31 strains of salmonella as adulterants and contaminants in meat. While salmonella is a serious problem, this very broad, zero-tolerance approach is not the answer. Many of these strains pose only slight risks, yet the testing requirements that would result from classifying them as adulterants could put small-scale processors out of business. That would ultimately reduce food safety, by further consolidating our meat supply in the hands of large-scale operations.
USDA should reject this petition.