U.S – In a bid to address mounting concerns over Salmonella contamination in Not-Ready-To-Eat (NRTE) breaded stuffed chicken products, the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has extended the comment period on its proposed determination.

With food safety at the forefront of public interest, the agency has taken a significant step to seek public input and gather vital information.

Initially published on April 28, 2023, the proposed determination aims to tackle the worrisome issue of Salmonella in NRTE breaded stuffed chicken products.

The original deadline for public comments was set for June 27, 2023. However, in response to the urgency of the matter, FSIS granted a brief extension until July 27, 2023, allowing stakeholders and consumers more time to voice their opinions.

Now, in a move to ensure comprehensive feedback, the agency has further extended the comment period, granting an additional 15 days. The new deadline for comments is August 11, 2023.

In the recently released Constituent Update on June 23, 2023, FSIS unveiled a comprehensive study investigating the prevalence of Salmonella in NRTE breaded stuffed chicken products purchased from retail stores.

The study’s findings have raised serious concerns about the potential risks posed to public health, prompting the agency to take swift action.

The FSIS proposed regulatory framework to minimize Salmonella infections connected to poultry products was first announced in October 2022, and this statement is an important first step that builds on that framework.

It based its proposal to declare Salmonella an adulterant in breaded stuffed raw chicken products on a number of considerations, including the fact that since 1998, it has investigated 14 Salmonella outbreaks with its public health partners and counted about 200 illnesses linked to these products.

The most recent outbreak was in 2021 and resulted in illnesses across 11 states.

USDA is taking science-based, decisive action to drive down Salmonella illnesses linked to poultry products.

“Today’s proposal represents the first step in a broader effort to control Salmonella contamination in all poultry products, as well as a continued commitment to protecting American consumers from foodborne illness,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack at the time.

Based on this proposal, the FSIS would deem as adulterated any breaded stuffed raw chicken products that contain a component of chicken that tested positive for Salmonella at 1 colony forming unit (CFU) per gram prior to stuffing and breading.

The extended comment period offers an essential opportunity for the public to engage with FSIS, providing valuable insights and opinions on this critical matter.

Stakeholders, industry experts, and concerned citizens can make their voices heard through various channels.

Comments can be submitted online via the Federal eRulemaking portal. Alternatively, individuals may send their feedback by mail to the Docket Clerk, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, or deliver it by hand or courier to the designated address.

FSIS emphasizes the importance of including the agency name and docket number FSIS-2022-0013 on all submissions, whether by mail or electronic means.

With Salmonella posing severe health risks and consumers relying on safe food options, this extended comment period represents a critical opportunity for stakeholders to influence food safety measures and regulatory decisions.

The agency’s dedication to gathering public feedback showcases its commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of American consumers.

As the deadline draws near, experts, consumer advocates, and industry players are encouraged to provide their invaluable input. With this collective effort, FSIS can bolster its mission of safeguarding the nation’s food supply, strengthening public trust, and making evidence-based decisions to protect the health of millions.

The eyes of the nation are on the outcome of this determination, as its impact will resonate across the food industry and influence future food safety standards.

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