USDA finalizes new standards for ground chicken and turkey

The Obama administration finalized new standards Thursday to reduce salmonella and other bacteria found in ground chicken and turkey products, as well as raw chicken breasts, legs and wings.

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The new standards set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) aim to reduce foodborne illnesses caused by salmonella found in raw chicken parts and ground chicken and turkey by 30 percent, and to reduce illnesses from Campylobacter found in chicken and ground turkey by 32 percent. The FSIS said Campylobacter in ground turkey is already low, so the new standards will reduce illnesses by 19 percent.

"We have made strides in modernizing every aspect of food safety inspection, from company record keeping, to labeling requirements, to the way we perform testing in our labs," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release.

"These new standards, in combination with greater transparency about poultry companies' food safety performance and better testing procedures, will help prevent tens of thousands of foodborne illnesses every year, reaching our Healthy People 2020 goals."

The service said it is now doing routine testing of facilities throughout the year and will begin posting information online about which facilities pass, meet or fail the new standards.