On June 25th, Representatives Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Louise Slaughter (D-NY) introduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would amend the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act. In particular, the bill, titled the “Pathogen Reduction and Testing Reform Act of 2014,” would give the Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (“FSIS”) the authority to declare that meat, poultry, and egg products found to contain certain pathogens are adulterated and may be recalled.
The amendments to the Federal Meat Inspection Act, the Poultry Products Inspection Act, and the Egg Products Inspection Act include a clearer definition for what FSIS would consider an “adulterant.” Specifically, an “adulterant” would now include “a microbial pathogen, such as Campylobacter or Salmonella, that is resistant to not less than two critically important antibiotics for human medicine[.]” This change would allow FSIS to have the authority to declare Salmonella as an adulterant if found in raw poultry food products and recall any of those products.
While Representatives DeLauro and Slaughter argue that the law currently defines the term “adulterated” ambiguously, others have cautioned against expanding its definition. For instance, former Deputy Acting Under Secretary of Food Safety, Scott Hurd, believes that categorizing Salmonella as an adulterant would be incredibly burdensome on the industry and may result in poultry producers having to bleach or cook all of their products.
In addition to expanding the definition of “adulterant,” the bill would require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish testing procedures and sampling protocols to determine whether meat, poultry, or egg products are adulterated and to prevent the introduction into the stream of commerce of any adulterated product.
After its introduction, the bill was referred to the Committee on Agriculture for review.