Salmonella Verification Testing Program: Monthly Reports for Establishments by Performance Category
Earlier this year FSIS changed the way it conducts its Salmonella performance standard sampling in poultry establishments. Previously, the agency would sample eligible products from establishments so many days in a row (a sample set). Generally, an establishment would then go a year or for the best performers up to two years without having its products sampled and tested again by FSIS. The agency now samples establishments continuously (up to once a week) and, as a result, the agency can more closely monitor an establishment's process control over time.
FSIS uses these sampling results to assess establishment performance based on a 3-category system. Establishments that exceed the performance standard are placed in Category 1, those that meet the standard are placed in Category 2, and those that fail the standard are placed in Category 3. Category 3 establishments have in the past been made available to the public on the FSIS Web site. FSIS posts these establishments to incentivize them to improve their performance. However, because establishments were placed in Category 3 under a sampling system that is no longer in use, the agency has temporarily removed the Category 3 list from its Web site until the new sampling system is fully implemented.
The agency has determined that it would be unfair to continue to post Category 3 establishments while they have no way of moving out of Category 3, and while no other establishments are being added. This change will not impact public health or food safety. FSIS will continue to closely monitor the establishments through continuous daily inspections.
Publication of Salmonella sample set results for young chicken establishments was first presented in a Federal Register Notice of February 27, 2006 (71 FR 9772-9777) and was recently described in detail in a Federal Register Notice of January 28, 2008 ( 73 FR 4767-4774). Publication of lists online began in April 2008. A Federal Register Notice in March 2011 announced July 2011 implementation of the new performance standards.
FSIS has decided that it is appropriate to evaluate test results in a manner that ensures that there is an 80% probability that establishments actually operating at the acceptable performance level will achieve results that are deemed to satisfy the criteria. Based on this criteria, the performance standard for Salmonella in young chickens is 7.5 percent, which translates into 5 positive samples out of a 51 sample set for meeting the performance standard.
Category 1 establishments have results from their two most recent completed sample sets that are at or below half of the standard. For young chickens this would be at or below 4 percent (2 positive samples out of a set of 51).
Category 2 establishments have results from their most recent completed sample set that are higher than half of the standard but do not exceed the standard. For young chickens this would be above 4 percent (3 or more positive samples out of a set of 51) but at or below 7.5 percent (5 positive samples out of 51).
Category 3 establishments have results from their most recent completed sample set that exceed the standard for Salmonella in young chickens. For young chickens this would be above 7.5 percent (6 or more positive samples out of 51).
Other establishments have results for their most recent sets that are at or below half of the standard but do not have the two recent successive completed sets at that level as required for Category 1. These establishments are now categorized as 2T. FSIS recognizes that these establishments have improved their process control and are in transition to Category 1.
Aggregate results for Categories 1, 2T, and 2 will be posted in the quarterly report. This information will be used by the Agency for internal analysis.