Raw Poultry: The Legal History, Public Policy, and Consumer Behavior

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Melvin N. Kramer, Ph.D., M.P.H., President of EHA Consulting Group Inc, has released a paper on Raw Poultry: The Legal History, Public Policy, and Consumer Behavior. The paper is available in full at http://www.ehagroup.com/resources/articles/raw-poultry-legal-history-public-policy-consumer-behavior/

The CDC reported that as “of January 15, 2014, a total of 430 persons infected with seven outbreak strains of Salmonella Heidelberg have been reported from 23 states and Puerto Rico” (http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg-10-13/index.html).

In response to the news, the popular media, the technical and professional public health and consumer publications, including the blogosphere, have weighed in with opinions.

The question is whether or not the poultry producer should have voluntary recalled the raw chicken, which based on epidemiologic, laboratory, and traceback investigations conducted by local, state, and federal officials, indicated “that consumption of Foster Farms brand chicken is the likely source of this outbreak of Salmonella Heidelberg infections” (http://www.cdc.gov/salmonella/heidelberg-10-13/index.html).

This question is not only multi-faceted, but has a rich history, both from a public health, public policy, and legal perspective dating back to the early 1970’s.

Dr. Melvin Kramer is in a somewhat unique position to write this paper since his superior at the New Jersey State Department of Health, Oscar J. Sussman, DVM, JD, MPH was involved. He influenced the American Public Health Association (APHA) to formally sue the United States Department of Agriculture for failure to warn the public that up to 50.8% of Federally Inspected poultry was positive for salmonella (The exact statistic has varied in numerous studies as described in a June 30, 1966 article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled Isolation of Salmonella from Poultry. Arthur Wilder. Isolation of Salmonella from Poultry. The New England of Journal of Medicine. Volume 274, Number 26. June 30, 1966).

Sussman wanted the USDA to put a standard warning on every retail package of poultry stating, “Caution. Improper cooking of this product may be hazardous to your health” (Claim USDA Meat Inspection Inadequate. AP Release. November 6, 1971).

The warning was to counter the seal of inspection in which the USDA certifies that the poultry is “wholesome”, because a pathogen such as salmonella is not wholesome unless and until the poultry is properly thermalized to an internal temperature of 165°F. This temperature will adequately kill all salmonella and other pathogens present.

For more information, read the full five-page white paper at http://www.ehagroup.com/resources/articles/raw-poultry-legal-history-public-policy-consumer-behavior/

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Dr. Melvin Kramer
since: 06/2009
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EHA Consulting Group, Inc.

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