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Progress Report on Salmonella and Campylobacter Testing of Raw Meat and Poultry Products, CY 1998-2011

Executive Summary

In calendar year 2011, FSIS analyzed 26,345 verification samples across eight meat and poultry product classes with the following percent positive rate of Salmonella per product class: young chicken (6.5%), market hog (3.3%), cow/bull (0.8%), steer/heifer (0.5%), ground beef (2.4%), ground chicken (30.9%), ground turkey (12.3%) and turkey (2.4%). In the third quarter of 2011, sampling was discontinued until further notice for three product classes: market hog, cow/bull, and steer/heifer. The Agency believes that the higher the percent positive rate, the greater the potential for the public to consume a product that can cause foodborne illness. FSIS schedules approximately 75 sample sets monthly using a risk-based algorithm to target establishments demonstrating variable or poor process control (i.e, establishments with high percent positive rates). Previous Salmonella Annual Reports can be found on the FSIS web site.

Since 2006, FSIS has focused sampling on raw carcass product classes believing that improvement in process control in these product classes will result in improvement in process control in raw ground product classes. As of December 2011, 84% of establishments are in Category 1. Based on five product classes, the following percentages of establishments are in Category 1: young chicken (87%), ground beef (83%), ground chicken (75%), ground turkey (100%), and turkey (82%).

The Agency established a new Performance Standard for Salmonella for young chicken and turkey carcasses as of July 1, 2011, in addition to initiating the Performance Standard for Campylobacter on young chicken and turkey carcasses. Summary information related to Campylobacter verification sampling will be published at a later date once a sufficient volume of data has been accrued.

This annual report also introduces summary information related to Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) test results for Young Chicken. For example, the data show that SE percent positive is higher during the winter months (November-February) and is more prevalent in the Northcentral area of the United States.

2011 Annual Report

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) uses data from its regulatory testing programs to monitor the effectiveness of its Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point Systems Final Rule, and to assess process control in individual establishments. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has incorporated the target of 11.4 cases of salmonellosis/100,000 persons into the Healthy People 2020 objectives aimed at a 25 percent reduction in human illnesses, which FSIS recognizes as appropriate guidance for the Agency's strategic planning to strengthen public health protection.

In 1996, FSIS established PR/HACCP to verify that establishments demonstrate consistent process control for preventing, eliminating, or reducing the contamination of raw meat and poultry products with disease-causing bacteria, by setting Salmonella performance standards that slaughter establishments and establishments that produce raw ground products should meet. Raw products with established performance standards or guidance include: carcasses of cows/bulls, steers/heifers, market hogs, young chickens and young turkeys. Processed products measured by performance standards include: ground beef, ground chicken, and ground turkey. The performance standards are based on the prevalence of Salmonella as determined from the Agency's nationwide microbiological baseline studies, which, except for the young chicken and turkey carcass product classes, were conducted prior to PR/HACCP implementation. The performance standards and guidance are expressed in terms of the maximum number of Salmonella-positive samples acceptable per sample set. The number of samples in a sample set varies by product, and the maximum number of positive samples acceptable in a set provides an 80% probability of an establishment passing when it is operating at the standard.

Prior to 2006, there were two phases of the FSIS regulatory program for Salmonella in raw products: non-targeted and targeted testing. Non-targeted or "A" set tests were collected at establishments randomly selected from the population of eligible establishments, with a goal of scheduling every eligible establishment at least once a year. Other codes (such as "B", "C", and "D") represented sample sets collected from establishments targeted for follow-up testing following a failed set. Beginning with the third 2006 quarterly report, reports have data summarized from all sets collected. (Note: Earlier reports have not been retrospectively changed). Consequently, under Table A1, the annual reports from 2005 and earlier reflect results from only the "A" set samples.

In February 2006, FSIS issued a federal register notice: " Salmonella Verification Sample Result Reporting: Agency Policy and use in Public Health Protection" announcing how FSIS would report and use results from its Salmonella verification sampling program for meat and poultry establishments. In this Notice, the Agency announced its intention to redirect its Salmonella verification sampling program and announced 11 new initiatives to encourage establishments to reassess their food safety systems to achieve and maintain consistent process control. As one of these new initiatives, FSIS increased testing frequency in establishments with variable or highly variable process control compared to those showing consistent process control.

Since June 2006, establishments have been scheduled based on risk-based criteria designed to focus FSIS resources on establishments with the most samples positive for Salmonella and the greatest number of samples with serotypes most frequently associated with human salmonellosis, (relative to each product class) as defined by CDC. 2

Furthermore, establishments are grouped into one of three categories. Category 1 includes establishments whose two most recent Salmonella set results are equal to or less than 50% of the performance standard or guidance. The Agency considers these establishments to demonstrate consistent process control. Category 2 includes establishments where at least one of their two most recent set results was greater than 50% of the performance standards or guidance without exceeding it, or they have passed their most recent set but failed the one prior to that one. These establishments are considered to have variable process control. An additional subcategory 2T was created in 2008 under Category 2 (reported in 2008 second quarterly report and onwards). An establishment with its last set ≤ 50% of the performance standard or guidance and the prior set at > 50% of the performance standard will now be sub-categorized as 2T, with T standing for transitioning to Category 1. Category 3 includes establishments whose most recent Salmonella set result has exceeded the performance standard for its product class. The Agency considers these establishments to display highly variable process control.

Results

This report presents percent positive Salmonella sample results and percent sample sets meeting the Salmonella performance standards listed by product class and PR/HACCP establishment size for 2011 and previous years (Table A1 and A3). Data is presented in aggregate form for the periods 1998-2003 and 1998-2011 (Table A2 and A4). 3

Individual sample results (Table A1) are counted in the year the sample is collected. Sample sets (Table A3) are counted in the year they are completed. For example, samples from a young chicken set collected in 2010 are counted in the 2010 results (Table A1). However if the sample set was completed in 2011, the set was counted in 2011 (Table A3). In Table A5, establishments are listed by product classes and percentage within categories 1, 2T, 2, and 3 for each product class. For young chicken and turkey carcasses, the categories are determined by the Salmonella Performance Standard which was in place at the time the verification set was scheduled.

Figure B1 compares Salmonella percent positive results from 1998 to 2011 with baseline prevalence by product class and year. Percentages of sample sets meeting Salmonella performance standards by product class from 1998 to 2011 are presented in Figure B2.

Young Chicken
FSIS continues to direct resources toward testing young chicken establishments. In 2011 (Table A1), 4,744 Salmonella samples were analyzed from young chicken establishments. The total percentage of positive samples was 6.5% in 2011, down from 6.7%, 7.2% 7.3%, and 8.5% in 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007, respectively. In addition, of the 100 sets completed in 2011 at young chicken establishments, 96% met the Salmonella performance standard compared to 94.8 (134 sets completed) in 2010, 95.7% (140 sets completed) in 2009, and 97.3% (149 sets completed) in 2008 (Table A3).

At the end of 2011, 137 young chicken establishments eligible for federal testing were in Category 1, comprising 86.7% of all young chicken establishments (Table A5) which was up from 85% in 2010. Furthermore in 2011, seven young chicken establishments (4.43%) were in Category 2T. Fourteen young chicken establishments were in Category 2 (8.96%). No young chicken establishments were in Category 3, making up 0% of all young chicken establishments. In 2010, 85% of young chicken establishments eligible for Salmonella sampling were in Category 1.

Additional information in this report concerns Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) test results for Young Chicken. FSIS tested 37,476 young chicken carcasses for the presence of Salmonella species during calendar years 2006 through 2011. These data from this extensive test base were reviewed and analyzed to estimate the percent of SE among the samples taken. Several factors were addressed — three of the factors (Calendar Year, Month and Season) pertain to when FSIS obtained the sample. The additional factors are the source establishment's Production Volume, geographical location ( Zone) and FSIS's field operating units (Districts). FSIS examined each of these factors for observable changes in the SE percent positive in the following analysis.

SE Percent Positive by Calendar Year ( Figure C1):
The SE percent positive ranged from a low of 0.88% in 2007 to a high of 1.78% during calendar year 2011. Initially, FSIS experienced a decrease in the SE percent positive in 2007 as compared to 2006 and then the percent positive either increased or remained steady through 2011. Of the 37,476 samples, FSIS found 495 positives (1.32%).

SE Percent Positive by Season (Figure C2):
Generally, the SE percent positive is higher during the winter months and the rate is increasing from 2007 through 2011. The lowest SE percent positive for the timeframe (2006-2011) and the factor Season is 0.94% which is observed in summer season. The highest SE percent positive is 1.70% which happens in winter season.

SE Percent Positive by Month (Figure C3):
When observed by month over the five calendar years reviewed, the data reveal a pattern of higher SE percent positives for November through February and lower rates for March through October. The lowest SE percent positive (0.81%) is observed in April and the highest rate (2.01%) occurs in January.

SE Percent Positive by Production Volume (Figure C4):
Increasing SE percent positives for establishments have been shown to occur with small and very small production volumes, whereas, medium and large volume establishments show decreasing SE percent positives for the 2008-2011 period. The lowest SE percent positive for the Production Volume category is 0.97% rate for establishments in the medium volume category. The highest SE percent positive is 2.12% for the large volume category.

SE Percent Positive by Zone (Figure C5):
The lowest SE percent positive for the zone factor is 1.06% for establishments in the Southwest zone. The highest SE percent positive is 2.05% for establishments in the Northcentral zone.

SE Percent Positive by FSIS District Office (Figure C6):
The lowest SE percent positive for the district partition is 0.00% for establishments in the Madison, Wisconsin district (note: no samples were taken for the Madison district for the years 2009, 2010 and for the Lawrence district in 2011). The highest SE percent positive rate for the district partition is 2.47% for establishments in the Chicago, Illinois district.

Market Hog
In 2011, 2,299 samples were analyzed. The total percent of Salmonella positive sample tests was 3.3% and was up from 2.4% in 2010 (Table A1). Of the 50 sets completed in 2011, 100% met the Salmonella performance standard for this product class.

Cows/Bulls
In 2011, 832 samples were analyzed at eligible establishments with 0.8% of the samples positive for Salmonella. This compared to 1,764 samples analyzed in 2010 (0.5% positive), 2,036 samples analyzed in 2009 (0.6% positive), and 2,301 samples analyzed in 2008, (0.5% positive). Fifteen sets were completed in 2011 with 100% meeting the Salmonella performance standard for this product class.

Steers/Heifers
During 2011, 2,791 samples were analyzed with 0.5% positive for Salmonella. In 2010, 4,918 samples were analyzed (0.1% positive), in 2009, 4,939 samples were analyzed (0.1% positive), and in 2008, 4,965 samples were analyzed (0.2% positive). In 2011, 51 sets were completed, with 96.1% of these meeting the performance standard. This compares to 2010 when 62 sets were completed and 95.2% met the performance standard, and to 2009, when 68 Salmonella sets were completed and 97.1% met the performance standard.

Ground Beef
In 2011, 13,161 ground beef samples were analyzed and 2.4% tested positive for Salmonella. This compares to 2010, when 9,256 samples were analyzed (2.2% positive), and to 2009 when 8,541 samples were analyzed (1.9% positive). Two hundred five sets were completed with 94.1% meeting the performance standard, compared to 2010 when 175 sets were completed (96.6% met the performance standard), and 2009 when 195 sets were completed (95.9% met the performance standard).

83% (247 establishments) were in Category 1, 5.7% percent (17 establishments) were in Category 2T, 9% (27 establishments) in Category 2, and 2.3% (3 establishments) in Category 3. In 2010, 79% of ground beef establishments eligible for Salmonella testing were in Category 1.

Ground Chicken
In 2011, 466 samples were analyzed, with a total of 30.9% percent positive. The total percent of sample sets meeting the performance standard was 77.8% with two sets completed.

75% (3 establishments) of ground chicken establishments were in Category 1 at the end of 2011, with no establishments in either Category 2 or Category 2T, and 25% (1 establishment) in Category 3. In 2010, 100% of ground chicken establishments eligible for Salmonella sampling were in Category 1.

Ground Turkey
In 2011, 511 samples were analyzed with a total percent positive at 12.3%, compared to 10.2% in 2010 (873 samples) and 10.7% in 2009 (608 samples). Fourteen sets were completed and all 14 passed for 2011, similar to 2010, when all 9 sets completed passed and to 2009 when all 14 sets completed passed.

100% (16 establishments) of ground turkey establishments were in Category 1, with no establishments in Category 2, Category 2T, or Category 3. In 2010, 95% of ground turkey establishments eligible for Salmonella sampling were in Category 1.

NOTE: The sampling frames for ground chicken and turkey are being re-examined. FSIS is considering redefining ground poultry product eligible for testing as all raw comminuted chicken, turkey, or chicken/turkey/beef/lamb/pork mix including mechanically separated poultry produced at federally-regulated establishments that is not further processed into RTE product.

Turkeys
In 2011, 1,541 turkey samples were analyzed, with a total percent positive at 2.4%, down from 4.6% positive in 2010. Of the 25 sets completed in 2011, 96% of these establishments met the Salmonella performance standard.

82% (27 establishments) were in Category 1, with 12% (4 establishments) in Category 2T, 3% (1 establishment) in Category 2, and 3% (1 establishment) in Category 3. In 2010, 82% of turkey establishments eligible for Salmonella testing were in Category 1.

The Agency annually reviews the progress made since 2006, and issues a report at the end of each calendar year. This report reflects data collected during 2011.
 

 
1 All years listed are calendar years (CY)

2 Note: Restructuring how Salmonella sets are scheduled means that comparison of results from 2006 onwards to previous years would not be appropriate. For such comparisons, the results of upcoming nationwide baseline studies can provide valid estimates of the prevalence of certain pathogens of public health concern and will permit valid statistical comparisons to be made over time.

3 An establishment's HACCP size may change over time; these tables reflect the size of the plant at the time the sample was collected.
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Progress Report on Salmonella Testing of Raw Meat and Poultry Products, 1998-2010
Last Modified Jul 31, 2013