The National Chicken Council is offering reassurance about the safety of US chicken following news of a voluntary recall of chicken products issued by Foster Farms in Livingston, California.
The fresh chicken products have been recalled due to the potential presence of Salmonella Heidelberg but no product currently on store shelves is part of this recall.
In response to the recall, NCC president Mike Brown released the following statement:
"Food safety is the top priority for companies that produce and process chicken products in the United States, and the industry prides itself on an excellent track record of delivering safe, affordable and wholesome food both domestically and abroad.
"Americans eat about 160 million servings of nutritious chicken every day, and virtually all of them are eaten safely. But we understand consumers have concerns about Salmonella, and regret any instances when someone becomes ill from eating chicken products – which is why our members are investing heavily in food safety research and are using the best science, research and technology available to break the chain of Salmonella at every stage of production.
"Even though we've collectively made tremendous progress in reducing Salmonella on raw chicken to all-time low levels, the fact is any raw agricultural product, whether its fresh fruit, vegetables, meat or poultry, is susceptible to naturally occurring bacteria that could make someone sick if improperly handled or cooked.
"NCC has serious concerns about FSIS's grounds for this recall. Raw chicken containing Salmonella of the same type associated with a foodborne illness outbreak is not adulterated under the federal Poultry Products Inspection Act. The agency acknowledges that Salmonella and other bacteria are not adulterants in chicken, but nonetheless now declares that these organisms adulterate chicken.
"Foodborne illness can occur from a variety of factors, including improper product handling, cross-contamination with other products at retail or during consumer preparation, or a failure to cook the product to the appropriate temperature. An establishment cannot control these factors, and until now, the food safety system has focused on managing those risks an establishment can control.
"The bottom line for consumers is that all pathogens found on raw chicken, regardless of strain or resistance profile, are controlled during processing under existing standards and will be fully destroyed by handling the product properly and cooking it to an internal temperature of 165°F."