Zero Tolerance to Acceptable Risk

Zero Tolerance to Acceptable Risk
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The fish and poultry industries propose moving from a zero tolerance policy on certain dangerous foodborne pathogens to an “acceptable risk” policy—given how widely contaminated their products are with potentially deadly fecal bacteria.

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According to the latest published national Retail Meat Report, more than 80% of retail chicken breasts sold in the United States are contaminated with fecal matter—up from about 70% seven years before. 80% fecal contamination, and that’s completely legal.

But there are a few bugs for which there is zero tolerance. That does not make the meat industry happy. As the president of the Seafood Importers and Processors Association wrote in their article “Beyond zero tolerance: a new approach to food safety,” they propose a “risk-based approach instead of a precautionary approach.”

From a recent article about raw poultry, instead of zero tolerance, “Alternative terminology should be used…such as ‘acceptable’ or ‘tolerable’ risk..” Instead of zero tolerance policies on potentially deadly bacteria on chicken, they propose ALOP, an “appropriate level of protection,” an acceptable risk—a certain “number of cases per 100,000 population per year associated with a specific hazard in a [particular] food commodity.”

“Given the nature of the poultry industry, controls that are currently applied will not guarantee the absence of Salmonella from raw poultry.” It’s just the way we raise chickens. Therefore, using terms such as “zero tolerance or absence of a microbe in relation to raw poultry should [therefore] be avoided.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

According to the latest published national Retail Meat Report, more than 80% of retail chicken breasts sold in the United States are contaminated with fecal matter—up from about 70% seven years before. 80% fecal contamination, and that’s completely legal.

But there are a few bugs for which there is zero tolerance. That does not make the meat industry happy. As the president of the Seafood Importers and Processors Association wrote in their article “Beyond zero tolerance: a new approach to food safety,” they propose a “risk-based approach instead of a precautionary approach.”

From a recent article about raw poultry, instead of zero tolerance, “Alternative terminology should be used…such as ‘acceptable’ or ‘tolerable’ risk..” Instead of zero tolerance policies on potentially deadly bacteria on chicken, they propose ALOP, an “appropriate level of protection,” an acceptable risk—a certain “number of cases per 100,000 population per year associated with a specific hazard in a [particular] food commodity.”

“Given the nature of the poultry industry, controls that are currently applied will not guarantee the absence of Salmonella from raw poultry.” It’s just the way we raise chickens. Therefore, using terms such as “zero tolerance or absence of a microbe in relation to raw poultry should [therefore] be avoided.”

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Serena.

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Doctor's Note

Unfortunately there’s no zero tolerance policy on meat for our nation’s leading foodborne killer, Salmonella—see Fecal Bacteria Survey. For more surveys on how much of the American meat supply is contaminated with fecal matter and foodborne pathogens, see Fecal Contamination of SushiFecal Residues on ChickenChicken Out of UTIsU.S. Meat Supply Flying at Half Staph; and MRSA in U.S. Retail Meat. Salmonella-infected eggs also sicken more than 100,000 Americans every year; see Total Recall. The industry, however, continues to blame the victim; see Unsafe at Any Feed.

Also, be sure to check out my associated blog post: Why is it Legal to Sell Unsafe Meat?

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