The National Chicken Council (NCC) recently submitted public comments regarding USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) “Proposed Determination” to declare Salmonella an adulterant in Not-Ready-to-Eat (NRTE) breaded stuffed chicken products.


From 1998 through 2016, FSIS indicates that thirteen salmonellosis outbreaks related to NRTE breaded stuffed chicken products occurred, an average of one outbreak per year.  Since 2016, with industry’s voluntary effort, the rate has decreased to 0.14 outbreaks per year.  All the while, consumers increasingly add chicken to their diets and American now eat nearly 50% more chicken today than in 1996.  When considering the increase in chicken consumption, the incidence of salmonellosis in humans attributed to chicken consumption has decreased significantly over the last decade.

In 2021, the National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection (NACMPI), an advisory committee for the Secretary of Agriculture on food safety policies, issued an exhaustive report with many items they recommended FSIS implement regarding this product class.  This list included re-verify labeling and cooking instruction validation, updating guidance to industry for labeling best practices, conducting targeted consumer outreach regarding these products, and more.  NCC agreed with the advisory committee’s recommendations and submitted a petition to FSIS in 2016 which was subsequently updated in 2022 to reflect more current industry practices, urging the Agency to complement and reinforce existing industry activities.  To date, FSIS has disregarded recommendations by both NACMPI and NCC.

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) on April 28, 2023, published a Proposed Determination in the Federal Register entitled, “Salmonella in Not-Ready-To-Eat (NRTE) Breaded Stuffed Chicken Products.” The Proposed Determination would declare Salmonella to be an adulterant in NRTE breaded stuffed chicken products.

NCC’s Comments

“A subset of our members produce NRTE breaded stuffed chicken products,” NCC’s comments began. “These products are consumed safely nearly every time they are eaten, but we recognize their nature raises special considerations that merit additional attention.”

“To that end, NCC has engaged with FSIS for decades to collaborate on scientifically valid and legally defensible approaches to this product category, and NCC remains committed to continued collaboration. The approach outlined in FSIS’s Proposed Determination, however, suffers from significant legal and scientific infirmities and is unlikely to achieve meaningful public health impacts.”

NCC’s comments outlined six key concerns with FSIS’s proposed determination, including:

  • The Proposed Determination is premised on legally infirm conclusions that Salmonella would be considered an adulterant at a level at or above 1 CFU/g in raw poultry used in these products;
  • The Proposed Determination is not supported by appropriate scientific data, which would make it an arbitrary and capricious Agency action;
  • The Proposed Determination raises a major question requiring Congressional direction;
  • The Proposed Determination raises numerous scientific and technical issues that would have to be resolved before it could be implemented in an orderly and reasonable fashion;
  • It is premature to issue the Proposed Determination in light of outstanding scientific questions and FSIS’s pending Salmonella Framework review;
  • The Proposed Determination would impose economic burdens well in excess of those predicted in the Agency’s analysis.

“NCC feels strongly that the Proposed Determination would take the wrong approach, from a legal, scientific, and practical standpoint,” NCC’s comments concluded. “Instead, NCC urges FSIS to pursue the recommendations that both NACMPI and NCC have put forward, as detailed in these comments.”

NCC’s full comments, including alternative recommendations for FSIS, can be found here.