A nationwide Salmonella outbreak is linked to several poultry processing plants in California, but the chicken has never been recalled. 278 people in 18 states have been sickened, and several strains of the pathogen have been identified as antibiotic-resistant. But there was no recall. That’s not what happens with pet food.
Why is pet food forced to recall when one swab of Salmonella is found by authorities, but human food confirmed to contain Salmonella – linked to hundreds of illnesses is not recalled? Why the double standard?
Raw meat in human food is under the regulatory guidance of USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). Pet food – raw or cooked – is under the regulatory guidance of FDA. And it seems the two food regulatory authorities each have their own set of rules when it comes to Salmonella contaminated food.
Historically, when a pet food has tested positive for Salmonella, the FDA swarms in (the pet food plant) and demands a recall. I’ve spoken personally with numerous pet food manufacturers that have experienced an FDA Salmonella recall; I’ve heard the stories of FDA swarming their manufacturing plant swabbing everything including the walls and the floor drains for Salmonella. Those that dare challenge FDA authority by not recalling every product within a wide radius to the contamination have even been ‘outed’ by FDA in the past – with FDA issuing a press release warning consumers not to purchase said product.
Salmonella contamination is not taken lightly with pet foods (by the FDA).
But on the other side of the Salmonella contaminated coin is the Food Safety and Inspection Service. And they do things differently.
From Food Safety News “The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) stated Thursday evening that it will not close the Foster Farms processing plants in California linked to a nationwide Salmonella outbreak.
FSIS had threatened to “withhold the marks of inspection” at the three California plants in Livingston and Fresno – effectively shutting them down – if the company had not presented corrective action plans by Thursday addressing its Salmonella control.
“Foster Farms has submitted and implemented immediate substantive changes to their slaughter and processing to allow for continued operations,” said USDA spokesman Aaron Lavallee on Thursday evening. “FSIS inspectors will verify that these changes are being implemented in a continuous and ongoing basis. Additionally, the agency will continue intensified sampling for at least the next 90 days.”
The threat was a response to the ongoing Salmonella outbreak linked to raw chicken from Foster Farms that has sickened at least 278 people in 18 states. Several strains of the pathogen have been identified as antibiotic-resistant, resulting in a hospitalization rate of 42 percent.
“FSIS has identified multiple noncompliances including but not limited to findings of poor sanitary dressing practices, insanitary food contact surfaces, insanitary non food contact surfaces and direct product contamination,” read the letter FSIS sent to Foster Farms on Monday.
Two U.S. government agencies – each handling Salmonella contaminated food in two separate ways. FSIS made a ‘deal’ with Foster Farms…’you clean up your plant and we won’t shut you down’. ‘We’ll play nice and give you adequate time to get in compliance – it doesn’t matter how many people get sick.’ FDA on the other hand doesn’t make deals when it comes to Salmonella. Plants are promptly inspected and it doesn’t matter how many foods have to be recalled – zero tolerance is the standard. (Yes…I’m bragging on the FDA – take note of this, it doesn’t happen very often.)
It is certain that the difference between these two agencies will be explained away that the raw chicken (Foster Farms raw chicken) is not finished food, the raw chicken would be cooked and thus pose minimal risk to consumers. But guess what…pet food isn’t finished food for humans – it is only ‘handled’ by consumers. Yet zero tolerance is expected in pet food by FDA (and we can be certain that this zero tolerance is due to the risk Salmonella poses to humans – pets are secondary in their consideration). The facts: the very same risk to consumers exists with salmonella contaminated raw chicken or salmonella contaminated pet food.
Our government food safety agencies should not hold different foods to different standards. All food should be safe to handle and to consume. Get your act together FSIS – this is embarrassing.
Wishing you and your pet(s) the best,
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