The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released its Salmonella Action Plan outlining steps the agency will take to address its “most pressing problem”—Salmonella in meat and poultry products.Key elements of the plan include modernizing an “outdated” poultry slaughter inspection system and shifting FSIS inspectors to more offline, foodsafety duties, which the agency said will prevent at least an estimated 5,000 illnesses annually.The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released its Salmonella Action Plan outlining steps the agency will take to address its “most pressing problem”—Salmonella in meat and poultry products. Key elements of the plan include modernizing an “outdated” poultry slaughter inspection system and shifting FSIS inspectors to more offline, foodsafety duties, which the agency said will prevent at least an estimated 5,000 illnesses annually.

The plan also calls for FSIS to (i) establish new performance standards; (ii) develop new strategies for “inspection and throughout the full farm- to table- continuum”; (iii) address all potential sources of Salmonella; and (iv) focus the agency’s “education and outreach tools on Salmonella.”

Although lauded by many food-safety advocates, critics claim that it “completely ignores” one of the most crucial issues the meat industry faces—antibiotic-resistant Salmonella. “It is shocking for the agency to have stayed on the sidelines of this public health crisis, particularly in the two and a half years since [we] petitioned the agency to declare certain strains of antibiotic-resistant Salmonella to be adulterants,” said a statement from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). “FSIS’s failure to address antibiotic resistance in its Action Plan for Salmonella is a weakness that continues to leave the public at risk.” While noting that the action plan does make “some important improvements,” CSPI asserts that FSIS “should go further, however, and test every poultry and beef slaughter plant every week for Salmonella.” See FSIS News Release and CSPI News Release, December 4, 2013.