WASHINGTON – The US Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is proposing a rule that will identify Salmonella as an adulterant in breaded and stuffed raw chicken products.

The agency noted that since 1998 breaded and stuffed raw chicken products have been associated with up to 14 foodborne illness outbreaks and approximately 200 illnesses. The FSIS said the products in the category are frozen and include chicken cordon blue or chicken Kiev. The products appear cooked but are heat-treated only to set the batter or breading and contain raw poultry. 

“Today’s announcement is an important moment in US food safety because we are declaring Salmonella an adulterant in a raw poultry product,” said Sandra Eskin, USDA deputy undersecretary for food safety. “This is just the beginning of our efforts to improve public health.”

FSIS is proposing to set the limit at one colony forming unit of Salmonella per gram for breaded and stuffed raw chicken products, a level the agency believes will significantly reduce the risk of illness from consuming the products. The agency said it also will seek comment on whether a different standard for adulteration — such as zero tolerance or one based on specific serotypes — would be more appropriate.

The agency plans to present a proposed framework for its strategy to reduce Salmonella illnesses in poultry during October and convene a public meeting to discuss it in November. The notice is expected to publish in the Federal Register during that time period where it may be reviewed and commented on. 

Once the proposal is finalized, FSIS will provide implementation plans and the date it will begin routine testing for ​​​​Salmonella​​​​ in the products.