The U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new plan Wednesday to reduce the number of salmonella outbreaks linked to meat and poultry.
The effort comes weeks after Foster Farms chicken was found to have sickened at least 389 people nationwide with a virulent strain of salmonella found to be resistant to some antibiotics. An estimated 1.3 million Americans are sickened by the bacteria each year.
Included in the plan is a controversial rollout of a pilot program that would speed up poultry processing lines and replace some USDA inspectors with plant employees. A recent Washington Post investigation found nearly 1 million chickens and turkeys were unintentionally boiled alive because of fast-moving factory lines.
The USDA said the new plan would focus inspectors more greatly on food safety, a change that could potentially reduce 5,000 illnesses a year, and would “factor in the latest scientific information.”