FSIS Home FOOD SAFETY AND INSPECTION SERVICE
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE
WASHINGTON, DC 20250-3700

 

Progress Report on Salmonella Testing of Raw Meat and Poultry Products, 1998-2001

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) issued the Pathogen Reduction; Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) Systems; Final Rule on July 25, 1996: Federal Register, Vol. 61, No. 144, pp. 38805-38989 (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/fr/haccp_rule.htm).  To verify that industry Pathogen Reduction/HACCP (PR/HACCP) systems are effective in controlling the contamination of raw meat and poultry products with disease-causing bacteria, the PR/HACCP rule sets Salmonella performance standards that slaughter establishments and establishments that produce raw ground products should meet.  These product-specific limits on Salmonella became effective in large establishments on January 26, 1998; in small establishments, on January 25, 1999; and in very small establishments, on January 25, 2000.  FSIS verifies that establishments are meeting the standards by having federal inspection personnel collect randomly selected product samples and send them to FSIS laboratories for Salmonella analysis, according to procedures described in Appendix E of the PR/HACCP final rule: Federal Register, Vol. 61, No. 144, pp. 38917-38928 (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OA/fr/haccp_rule.htm).

The Salmonella performance standards are based on the prevalence of Salmonella as determined from the agencys nationwide microbial baseline studies (http://www.fsis.usda.gov/OPHS/baseline/contents.htm) conducted before PR/HACCP was implemented.  Raw products currently covered by performance standards are carcasses of cows/bulls, steers/heifers, market hogs, and broilers; and ground beef, ground chicken, and ground turkey.  The performance standards are expressed in terms of the maximum number of Salmonella-positive samples that are allowed per sample set.  The number of samples in a sample set varies by product, and the maximum number of positive samples allowed in a set provides an 80% probability of passing when the establishment is operating at the standard.  An initial sample set or a set that follows a passed set is designated an A set; other codes (such as B and C) represent sample sets collected from establishments targeted for follow-up testing following a failed set.  Code A sample sets are collected at randomly selected establishments.

The data analyzed for this report are from code A sample sets.  The laboratory results from follow-up testing resulting from failed A sample sets (that is, the results from B and C sets) are not included because they do not represent a random sampling of establishments.  Presenting the A set data provides the most direct comparison to the baseline estimates that were used to establish the performance standards.  Salmonella prevalence estimates are based on all A set samples collected during the indicated year, with no consideration given as to whether a sample is part of a complete or an incomplete set.  The prevalence estimate is the number of positive samples divided by the total number of samples analyzed, expressed as a percentage.  The percentages of sample sets meeting the Salmonella performance standards are based on A sets that were completed during the specified year, as defined by the collect date of the last sample in the sample set.

During the last year (CY 2001), Salmonella prevalence in all product categories with performance standards was lower than in agency baseline studies and surveys conducted before PR/HACCP implementation (Table 1).  Differences in pre- versus post-HACCP Salmonella prevalence may reflect changes due to HACCP implementation.  During 2001, both increases and decreases from the previous year in prevalence for specific product categories were observed.  For example, for all sizes of inspected establishments, the CY 2001 Salmonella prevalence in broilers was 11.9 percent, as compared with 9.1 percent in CY 2000.  As might be expected, the Salmonella prevalence for ground chicken also increased from 13.8 percent to 19.5 percent based on a relatively small number of samples.  However, the levels for broilers and ground chicken for CY 2001 are still well below the baseline prevalences of 20 percent and 44.6 percent, respectively.  (Although there are few very small broiler establishments, CY 2001 testing suggests that, as a group, they are having difficulty meeting the performance standard.)

In the previous progress report covering the three years of 1998 through 2000, the agency pointed out that small market hog establishments were having the most difficulty meeting an existing performance standard.  However, the progress report noted that Salmonella prevalence in code A market hog carcass samples from small establishments had decreased from 18.0 percent in CY 1999 to 7.7 percent in CY 2000, compared to the 8.7 percent baseline prevalence.  For CY 2001, the Salmonella prevalence in market hog carcasses from small establishments continued to decrease to 3.5 percent, well below the baseline prevalence.  The prevalence for very small market hog establishments was almost as low, 4.4 percent as compared with 7.2 percent in CY 2000.  The overall Salmonella prevalence for ground beef continued to decline to 2.8 percent, based on over 24,000 samples from all sizes of establishments.

The results of four years of testing show that the majority of completed code A sample sets meets the Salmonella performance standard (Table 2).  Salmonella compliance for all sizes of establishments and all years combined is: 90.8% for broilers, 82.9% for market hogs, 83.7% for cows/bulls, 96.8% for steers/heifers, 91.8% for ground beef, 100.0% for ground chicken, and 90.5% for ground turkey.  There were relatively small changes from CY 2000 to CY 2001 in the overall percentages (all sizes of establishments) of code A sample sets meeting the performance standards.  The percentage of ground beef A sets that passed increased from 91.0 percent in CY 2000 to 95.5 percent in CY 2001.  For small establishments, the percentage of sets passing either increased or remained about the same for all seven product categories.

Achieving a reduction in pathogens reduces the risk of illness.  However, all segments of the food chain and consumers should continue to properly handle, cook, and store all meat, poultry, and other food products in order to guard against foodborne illness.

For More Information:

  • Media (202) 720-9113
  • Congressional (202) 720-3897
  • Constituent (202) 720-8594
  • Consumer inquiries Call USDAs Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-800-535-4555.  In the Washington, DC, area, call (202) 720-3333.  The TTY number is 1-800-256-7072.
  • Technical inquires Dr. Walter Hill, Office of Public Health and Science, Biosciences Division, (202) 690-6369.
  • FSIS Web Site: http://www.fsis.usda.gov

Table 1
Prevalence a of Salmonella in the PR/HACCP Verification Testing Program 
By Calendar Year, 1998 - 2001

"A" Sets

CY 2001
    Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product Baseline Prevalence (%) # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos
Broilers 20.0 5,879 9.7% 2,684 13.0% 392 37.2% 8,955 11.9%
Market Hogs 8.7 1,419 1.6% 1,385 3.5% 5,286 4.4% 8,090 3.8%
Cows/Bulls 2.7 72 0.0% 1,045 1.3% 1,059 3.7% 2,176 2.4%
Steers/Heifers 1.0 58 0.0% 411 0.2% 1,226 0.8% 1,695 0.6%
Ground Beef 7.5 691 3.6% 11,749 3.5% 11,803 2.1% 24,243 2.8%
Ground Chicken 44.6 90 26.7% 131 16.8% 41 12.2% 262 19.5%
Ground Turkey 49.9 313 25.2% 144 27.1% 63 28.6% 520 26.2%

 

CY 2000
    Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product Baseline Prevalence (%) # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos
Broilers 20.0 7,175 7.5% 2,821 13.0% 61 18.0% 10,057 9.1%
Market Hogs 8.7 1,919 4.1% 2,144 7.7% 1,107 7.2% 5,170 6.2%
Cows/Bulls 2.7 173 0.6% 1,593 2.1% 229 3.5% 1,995 2.2%
Steers/Heifers 1.0 222 0.0% 693 0.6% 177 0.0% 1,092 0.4%
Ground Beef 7.5 1,373 5.4% 21,065 3.4% 10,406 2.7% 32,844 3.3%
Ground Chicken 44.6 169 12.4% 233 15.0% 12 8.3% 414 13.8%
Ground Turkey 49.9 1,173 26.5% 377 23.3% 1 0.0% 1,551 25.7%

 

CY 1999
    Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product Baseline Prevalence (%) # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos
Broilers 20.0 4,530 9.3% 2,238 15.6% 0 6,768 11.4%
Market Hogs 8.7 973 1.8% 950 18.0% 0 1,923 9.8%
Cows/Bulls 2.7 116 0.9% 1,405 2.3% 0 1,521 2.2%
Steers/Heifers 1.0 272 0.4% 510 0.2% 0 782 0.3%
Ground Beef 7.5 765 6.7% 15,610 4.2% 0 16,375 4.3%
Ground Chicken 44.6 125 15.2% 172 16.9% 0 297 16.2%
Ground Turkey 49.9 759 33.1% 291 27.8% 0 1,050 31.6%

 

CY 1998
    Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product Baseline Prevalence (%) # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos
Broilers 20.0 5,645 10.8% 14 7.1% 0 5,659 10.8%
Market Hogs 8.7 1,390 5.8% 0   0 1,390 5.8%
Cows/Bulls 2.7 58 0.0% 121 1.7% 0 179 1.1%
Steers/Heifers 1.0 214 0.0% 0   0 214 0.0%
Ground Beef 7.5 1,125 4.9% 171 16.4% 0 1,296 6.4%
Ground Chicken 44.6 24 4.2% 0   0 24 4.2%
Ground Turkey 49.9 591 36.5% 0   0 591 36.5%

 

All Years 1998 - 2001
    Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product Baseline Prevalence (%) # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos # Samp % Pos
Broilers 20.0 23,229 9.2% 7,757 13.7% 453 34.7% 31,439 10.7%
Market Hogs 8.7 5,701 3.5% 4,479 8.6% 6,393 4.9% 16,573 5.4%
Cows/Bulls 2.7 419 0.5% 4,164 2.0% 1,288 3.6% 5,871 2.2%
Steers/Heifers 1.0 766 0.1% 1,614 0.4% 1,403 0.7% 3,783 0.4%
Ground Beef 7.5 3,954 5.2% 48,595 3.8% 22,209 2.4% 74,758 3.4%
Ground Chicken 44.6 408 15.9% 536 16.0% 53 11.3% 997 15.7%
Ground Turkey 49.9 2,836 30.2% 812 25.6% 64 28.1% 3,712 29.2%

a Prevalence estimates include all samples collected during the indicated calendar year.

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Table 2
Percent of Sample Sets Meeting the Salmonella Performance Standards b 
By Calendar Year, 1998 - 2001

"A" Sets

CY 2001

 

Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass
Broilers 117 94.0% 49 89.8% 4 25.0% 170 91.2%
Market Hogs 25 96.0% 23 91.3% 49 77.6% 97 85.6%
Cows/Bulls 2 100.0% 15 93.3% 17 76.5% 34 85.3%
Steers/Heifers 1 100.0% 8 100.0% 4 100.0% 13 100.0%
Ground Beef 13 92.3% 200 94.0% 213 97.2% 426 95.5%
Ground Chicken 1 100.0% 4 100.0% 1 100.0% 6 100.0%
Ground Turkey 9 88.9% 6 100.0% 1 100.0% 16 93.8%

 

CY 2000

 

Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass
Broilers 137 96.4% 53 79.2% 0   190 91.6%
Market Hogs 32 93.8% 34 70.6% 0   66 81.8%
Cows/Bulls 2 100.0% 30 83.3% 0   32 84.4%
Steers/Heifers 3 100.0% 8 87.5% 0   11 90.9%
Ground Beef 27 81.5% 344 91.9% 75 90.7% 446 91.0%
Ground Chicken 3 100.0% 2 100.0% 0   5 100.0%
Ground Turkey 15 93.3% 2 50.0% 0   17 88.2%

 

CY 1999

 

Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass
Broilers 111 91.0% 40 85.0% 0 151 89.4%
Market Hogs 26 100.0% 12 50.0% 0 38 84.2%
Cows/Bulls 2 100.0% 17 76.5% 0 19 78.9%
Steers/Heifers 3 100.0% 3 100.0% 0 6 100.0%
Ground Beef 21 85.7% 252 87.3% 0 273 87.2%
Ground Chicken 2 100.0% 3 100.0% 0 5 100.0%
Ground Turkey 18 94.4% 5 80.0% 0 23 91.3%

 

CY 1998

 

Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass
Broilers 77 90.9% 0 0 77 90.9%
Market Hogs 16 68.8% 0 0 16 68.8%
Cows/Bulls 1 100.0% 0 0 1 100.0%
Steers/Heifers 1 100.0% 0 0 1 100.0%
Ground Beef 9 88.9% 0 0 9 88.9%
Ground Chicken 0   0 0 0  
Ground Turkey 7 85.7% 0 0 7 85.7%

 

All Years 1998 - 2001

 

Large Establishments Small Establishments Very Small Establishments All Sizes Establishments
Product # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass # Sets % Pass
Broilers 442 93.4% 142 84.5% 4 25.0% 588 90.8%
Market Hogs 99 91.9% 69 73.9% 49 77.6% 217 82.9%
Cows/Bulls 7 100.0% 62 83.9% 17 76.5% 86 83.7%
Steers/Heifers 8 100.0% 19 94.7% 4 100.0% 31 96.8%
Ground Beef 70 85.7% 796 91.0% 288 95.5% 1,154 91.8%
Ground Chicken 6 100.0% 9 100.0% 1 100.0% 16 100.0%
Ground Turkey 49 91.8% 13 84.6% 1 100.0% 63 90.5%

b Includes sample sets that completed during the indicated calendar year (sample sets may have started during an earlier year).

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