Meanwhile, the total number of recalls of FDA-regulated products like produce, seafood and processed foods have dropped —particularly after new Food Safety Modernization Act rules took effect in 2016. Since that year, recalls fell by 34 percent to 517. Of that total, 173 were Class I.
"[T]he contrasting trends in food safety between the two agencies make it clear additional action is necessary, especially as Americans continue to eat significant amounts of meat," U.S. PIRG said in the report. The group noted that even though the total number of poultry and pork recalls didn't rise last year, they encompassed a larger volume of product compared with 2018 — potentially exposing a greater number of consumers to harm.
Eradicating salmonella in meat: Over the weekend, well-known food safety lawyer Bill Marler and several consumer advocacy groups (not including U.S. PIRG) requested that USDA classify salmonella — the most common foodborne pathogen — as an adulterant. This would give the department the authority to issue mandatory recalls and stop inspection lines, the Washington Post reported.
USDA has previously denied two similar petitions, in part due to a 2001 court case that ruled the department didn't have the authority to shut down meatpacking plants over repeated salmonella contamination because it is a naturally occurring bacteria that can be killed during cooking.