March 18, 2020

The 1999 FSIS final rule, Performance Standards for the Production of Certain Meat and Poultry Products, requires a 6.5 log10 relative reduction (6.5 log10 lethality) of Salmonella for cooked beef, roast beef and corned beef (9 CFR318.17). Appendix A in the compliance guidelines for this 1999 final rule, included two time-temperature (TT) columns in a table for roast beef, cooked beef and corned beef products. One column was for 6.5 log10 and the other column was for a 7.0 log10 relative reduction of Salmonella (Attachment 1). The TT column for a 7.0 log10 relative reduction in whole beef products was included as a guide for those establishments that wanted to process these beef products to exceed the required minimum 6.5 logs for an additional measure of safety.
The 1999 final rule also established a performance standard for poultry that requires a 7.0 log10 lethality of Salmonella in RTE poultry (9 CFR 381.150). The compliance guidelines for this rule provided one temperature each for cooking uncured poultry (160º F) and for cured poultry (155º F) to meet the performance standard. FSIS did not provide a timetemperature table for cooking poultry at temperatures lower than 160º F because there was inadequate research information at that time.
FSIS has been made aware that some users of the TT tables in Appendix A are under the impression that the TT column for a 7.0 log10 reduction of Salmonella for cooked beef can also be used for cooking poultry to achieve a 7.0 log reduction in poultry and meet the performance standard. As a result, some establishments use the 7.0 log10 meat TT column for cooking poultry. Establishments that have been applying the 7.0 log10 column in the meat tables for cooking poultry could be undercooking their products. There is relatively greater risk of undercooking if the initial level of Salmonella in their raw product is high. Furthermore, studies have shown that there is a difference in bacterial resistance due to the type of product species. This could result in Salmonella positive products and foodborne illness. Currently, there is no information as to how many establishments use the 7.0 log meat TT tables for cooking poultry, nor is there information on actual instances of poultry products cooked at a time and temperature combination from the these tables that were inadequately cooked, resulting in Salmonella positive products and foodborne illness.


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