As many Americans celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday today with a traditional meal of turkey and trimmings, their federal Department of Agriculture (USDA) wants to remind them that their turkeys have been “raised by the rules.”
A fact sheet on the USDA website explains that the Department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service requires employees at turkey-processing facilities to follow Sanitary Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) that help ensure “turkeys or giblets are clean and protected from dangerous chemicals or materials.”
In addition, each turkey-processing facility is required to establish a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) plan aimed at minimizing foodborne pathogens.
As the USDA explains, HACCP “requires each turkey plant to analyze the processes by which it produces whole turkeys, turkey parts, turkey giblets, and other turkey products. Each production procedure is studied to find any food safety hazard that is likely to occur and to eliminate that possibility.”
Department “veterinarians and inspectors check every day to see that the SSOPs and the HACCP plan are being carefully followed.”
USDA inspectors are also tasked with checking each turkey for disease and contamination, as well as randomly sampling turkeys to test for excess residues of any antibiotics used by breeders in raising the birds.