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USDA data show incidence of Salmonella reduced in raw meat and poultry

by 5m Editor
18 April 2003, at 12:00am

WASHINGTON - Data released today by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) show that overall, the regulatory sampling prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry continues to decrease.

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In calendar year 2002, FSIS took 58,085 Salmonella samples compared to 45,941 in 2001, a 26.4 percent increase in the number of samples taken. However, the percentage of samples testing positive for Salmonella across all commodities dropped from 5.0 percent to 4.3 percent. For steer/heifer carcasses, FSIS found 14 positive samples out of 4,572, a positive rate of 0.3 percent. Also, positive Salmonella samples from very small broiler plants showed the greatest decrease, from 37.2 percent in 2001 to 8.4 percent in 2002.

"These data tell us that we are making steady and sustained progress in reducing the incidence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products," said USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety Dr. Elsa Murano. "This positive trend in regulatory samples will hopefully translate into fewer cases of Salmonellosis due to meat and poultry."

FSIS collects and analyzes regulatory Salmonella samples in seven categories: broilers; market hogs; cows/bulls; steer/heifer; ground beef; ground chicken; and ground turkey. In every category, Salmonella prevalence levels continue to register well below baselines set prior to the implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (PR/HACCP) system. Six of the seven categories showed improvement between 2001 and 2002, with only ground chicken showing an increase in positive test results.

Regulatory sampling prevalence of Salmonella for the years 1998-2002 as compared to the performance standard established in the PR/HACCP rule are as follows: broilers, 10.9 percent compared to a standard of 20 percent; market hogs, 4.7 percent compared to a standard of 8.7 percent; cows/bulls, 2 percent compared to a standard of 2.7 percent; steer/heifer, 0.4 percent compared to a standard of 1 percent; ground beef, 3.2 percent compared to a standard of 7.5 percent; ground chicken, 19.8 percent compared to a standard of 44.6 percent; and ground turkey, 26.6 percent compared to a standard of 49.9 percent. USDA continues to strengthen its food safety programs to ensure safe and wholesome meat, poultry and egg products. On Jan. 23, Secretary Veneman announced that President Bush would seek record-level support for USDA's meat and poultry food safety programs as well as increase efforts to strengthen agricultural protection systems in his FY 2004 budget.

USDA's food safety budget will increase to $797 million, an increase of $42 million over the FY2003 request, which represents a $148 million increase in food safety programs since FY2000. The FY 2004 request will fund 7,680 food safety inspectors, provide intensified training for the inspection workforce, increase microbiological testing and sampling, strengthen foreign surveillance programs and increase public education efforts.

Information on food safety can be found at www.fsis.usda.gov. Details of the new report can be found at http://www.fsis.usda.gov/ophs/haccp/salm5year.pdf.

USDA - 16th April 2003

5m Editor