Remarks for Dr. Barbara J. Masters, Administrator, Food Safety and Inspection Service, at the Post-Harvest Salmonella Public Meeting on February 23, 2006, in Atlanta, GA
Good morning. I am pleased to be here today to participate
in this important meeting. I want to thank FSIS' Office of Policy,
Program and Employee Development for hosting this meeting. It's
no small challenge to organize a meeting of this magnitude,
so thank you Dr. Engeljohn and your staff for putting this together.
I am especially delighted that we are able to netcast this
meeting - allowing us to reach many more of our stakeholders
who have an interest in this important topic.
As you know, FSIS takes a farm-to-table approach to food safety.
While most of our regulatory authority lies in plants, we realize
that food safety begins before product reaches the processing
or slaughter establishments.
We have so much information to share with you on the issue
of Salmonella that we decided to divide these public
meetings into two separate events.
At the pre-harvest public meeting last August, we talked about
Salmonella trends and how prevalence in broilers and
ground chicken was up. We discussed controlling Salmonella
to the maximum extent practical at pre-harvest and the impact
that has on the levels of Salmonella coming in to the
plant. At this meeting, we will present the latest data and
discuss in-plant efforts and solutions for combating Salmonella.
As we discussed in Athens, there are things that can be done
before product reaches a plant; there are also things that can
be done at the plant to decrease the prevalence of Salmonella.
Likely many of these will be done in combination for optimal
Salmonella control. The bottom line is however, the
industry must make the changes, as an industry to control this
organism! Just like there are things we can do before product
reaches a plant, there are also things that can be done at the
plant to avoid the prevalence of Salmonella.
The E. coli Model
As Dr. Raymond mentioned, we are aware that individual plants
CAN meet the standards put in place for Salmonella.
We know this because there are plants that consistently meet
As I mentioned in Athens and Dr. Raymond discussed, we are
basing our Salmonella strategy on a model that we believe
has been extremely successful. FSIS recently worked with the
beef industry on the issue of E. coli. We conducted
a risk assessment based on some outbreaks and recalls due to
E. coli O157:H7.
After this, we asked all beef slaughter and processing establishments
to reassess their HACCP plans. The industry rose to the challenge
and we've seen a dramatic reduction in positive results in our
regulatory sampling for this pathogen.
As Dr. Raymond stated, we've also seen reductions based on
data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and
foodborne illness relative to E. coli O157:H7. We believe
that those reductions occurred in large part due to drastic
industry changes and redesigned food safety systems based on
the plants' reassessments. This is an industry wide initiative.
We also believe that the poultry industry can see similar changes
if you apply a comparable model. I challenge you to look at
your programs and use the data and what you will learn at this
meeting to make changes that will significantly decrease the
prevalence of Salmonella at your establishments.
We will also be issuing a compliance guideline from the pre-harvest
meeting that you might find helpful. You do not need to wait
on FSIS to require you to reassess your programs. You do not
need to wait on FSIS to conduct a Food Safety Assessment. We
are providing you general information today. You will learn
about specific plant data you will begin receiving. It is up
to you to use this information to make the necessary changes
to your operations to control Salmonella in a way that
works within your plant environment.
There are different ways to control Salmonella. Plants
are using a variety of interventions and everyone has a different
idea on how to approach this challenge. We acknowledge that
there is no one way to reduce Salmonella and we implore
you to do whatever works best in your plant.
You have options on techniques to use for fighting Salmonella.
At this meeting, you will hear about different preventative
measures that can be taken in your establishments. We're providing
you with the tools to make the changes.
No matter which measures you choose, you need to reassess and
redesign your individual strategies.
We have been conducting food safety assessments in the poultry
industry. Dr. Ken Petersen will discuss our findings later this
We've searched the literature and have that information to
All of the information you receive in the next two days will
be made available for you on CD. We plan to be transparent with
the data. Use information and supply it!
You will hear the word "transparent" throughout this meeting.
We firmly believe that data should be a driving force for the
changes that must be made.
As Dr. Raymond said, changes WILL be made to the way that we
approach the issue of reducing the prevalence of Salmonella
in poultry. These changes must occur to ensure that public health
is protected and improved.
We expect to see extreme improvements in the coming months.
We are confident that the poultry industry is up for the challenge.
It is the entire industry that must accept this challenge and
make the difference.
We look forward to working with your establishments as you
implement new and improved plans to ensure these improvements
take place. We appreciate so many of you joining us, whether
in person or by net cast. Enjoy the rest of the meeting. And
- I can't emphasize enough, take advantage of the information
being shared. It's up to you to make the difference!