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AMI Submits Comments on Salmonella Verification Sampling Changes.

Monday, September 30, 2013

(American Meat Institute)

AMI last week submitted comments to the Department of Agriculture (USDA) about the announced changes to the Salmonella Verification Sampling Program. While AMI applauded the agency for engaging in more sophisticated data collection, the comments stressed that given the changes in sample size and differences between FSIS and FDA's sampling procedures when conducting risk assessments, context is critical as the agency reports results and that the risk assessment should include a range of factors.

Furthermore, AMI emphasized that a complete and comprehensive risk assessment of all food sources, not limited to simply meat and poultry, is key to determining the public health risk of Salmonella. AMI also argued that the time period of three months that the agency plans to collect and analyze samples prior to conducting a risk assessment is much too short, as the agency has acknowledged that beef products have the greatest seasonal variation of all products subject to FSIS sampling programs. AMI advocated for a 12 month sampling time frame before developing a performance standard, enabling the agency to draw more reasonable conclusions from the data.

Meanwhile, AMI suggested that due to the progress the meat and poultry industry has made in reducing the incidence of Salmonella in its products, FSIS should be considering alternatives to developing new performance standards. Finally, AMI asked FSIS to provide more details on its proposed "moving window" approach for Salmonella tests, as opposed to its current "set-based approach." The full comments can be read here.

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