Looming regulatory guidance regarding on Salmonella has drawn criticism from the poultry industry.

“In October, USDA proposed a new regulatory framework for controlling Salmonella in poultry, which includes more rigorous monitoring of the microbial condition of poultry carcasses during processing, as well as new final product testing standards,” said Rob Ames, business development manager for Corbion. “This, along with looming performance standards for in-tact and comminuted pork, means that surface treatments, like all food safety tools, will need to bring more performance to a challenged industry.”

Of particular concern for poultry processors under the proposed regulatory changes is the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service considering whether “there are specific Salmonella and raw poultry product pairs that have characteristics that distinguish them from other raw poultry products contaminated with Salmonella, such that Salmonella at certain levels and/or types of Salmonella should be considered as an adulterant when present in that specific raw poultry product.”

Further, FSIS will “soon be releasing a proposal that Salmonella meets the criteria to be considered an adulterant in not-ready-to-eat (NRTE) breaded and stuffed raw chicken products.”

In light of the proposed heightened regulatory changes, safety interventions — including use of antimicrobial sprays and dips — will see even more scrutiny from processors.

“Antimicrobial surface treatments are a common method used to reduce gram-negative pathogens like Salmonella and E. coli in fresh meats during harvest, chilling, and first processing,” Ames said. “Without surface treatments, HACCP plans would be challenged to control the pathogens that are reasonably likely to occur, which makes these treatments integral to food safety plans. That said, it can be an overlooked benefit that fresh meat and poultry products, as well as ready-to-eat products surface-treated with antimicrobials, can be extremely clean from spoilage organisms, and this contributes to quality and shelf life in and of itself. If ultimately the treatments used can promote quality and safety concurrently, then they are of great value to fresh meat and poultry producers.”