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Petitioners call for drug-resistant salmonella to be classified as food adulterant.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest is calling on USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service to declare four strains of antibiotic-resistant (ABR) salmonella an adulterant in meat and poultry to prevent foodborne illness outbreaks.

"USDA should be testing for antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella to keep contaminated foods out of grocery stores, just as it now can do for the most dangerous strains of E. coli," said CSPI Food and Safety Director Caroline Smith DeWall. "Antibiotic-resistant Salmonella is no less dangerous and kills twice as many Americans each year," she added.

This is the second petition CSPI has filed regarding salmonella as an adulterant. FSIS denied the organization's first petition, submitted in May 2011, because, according to the agency, most foodborne pathogens, including salmonella, are not considered adulterants because cooking meat and poultry products can destroy them. However, in 1994, FSIS declared E. coli 0157:H7 an adulterant in ground beef, thus providing the agency with the authority needed to enforce a mandatory recall. In 2011, FSIS declared six additional groups of E. coli to be adulterants.

At the time of the first petition, FSIS requested additional evidence to support CSPI's claim that the four strains of ABR salmonella meet the legal definition of "adulterant" under the Federal Meat Inspection Act and the Poultry Products Inspection Act. Those laws define an adulterant as an added substance that is "deleterious" and may render food injurious to health.

CSPI argues that ABR salmonella is found in animals because humans routinely administer antibiotics in feed and water to prevent and treat diseases, thus meeting the definition of an added substance.

FSIS plans to give the latest CSPI petition a full review and has made addressing salmonella its top priority, as outlined in their Salmonella Action Plan, an agency spokeswoman told the press.

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Publication:The Food & Fiber Letter
Date:Oct 6, 2014
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