dark overlay
nav button USDA Logo

FSIS

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

Actions
Loading...

FSIS Microbiological Testing Program for Ready to Eat (RTE) Meat and Poultry Products, 1990–2015

 


Introduction

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has conducted a regulatory microbiological testing program for Ready-to-Eat (RTE) meat and poultry products since 1983. RTE products are fully cooked before packaging and do not require further cooking by the consumer. However, these products are susceptible to contamination with pathogens during peeling, slicing, repackaging, and other processing steps after the required kill step to eliminate pathogens. Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a pathogen of particular concern for RTE products, because it is capable of growth at refrigerated temperatures. Processing establishments ensure RTE products do not become contaminated with Lm or other pathogens of concern, such as Salmonella, by applying a treatment to the product after its exposure to the processing environment (post-lethality treatment), and use a growth inhibitor (antimicrobial agent or process) to prevent the growth of L. monocytogenes in the product up to its declared shelf life.

FSIS laboratories located in Alameda, CA, St. Louis, MO, and Athens, GA analyze RTE samples for microbial hazards of public health concern, including Lm and Salmonella. The data reported here are from sampling projects conducted from 1990 through 2015.

FSIS does not view the results of regulatory testing as estimates of national product prevalence. The agency, however, does consider the RTE regulatory results to be an indicator of the trends in pathogen presence in these products.  

[Top of Page]


Current Sampling Programs

Currently, FSIS samples RTE products through three sampling programs: RTEPROD_RAND, RTEPROD_RISK, and RLm.

FSIS conducts routine sampling of RTE products under RTEPROD_RAND and RTEPROD_RISK.  

  • RTEPROD_RAND samples are taken randomly at establishments producing RTE products. FSIS maintains separate programs for each pathogen.
    • RTEPROD_RAND Lm 
    • RTEPROD_RAND Salmonella
  • RTEPROD_RISK samples are taken for post-lethality-exposed product, based on risk. FSIS maintains separate programs for each pathogen.
    • RTEPROD_RISK Lm
    • RTEPROD_RISK Salmonella

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) can grow and persist in the food-processing processing environment. FSIS inspectors collect food samples, samples from food contact surfaces, and from non-food contact environmental surfaces in the post-lethality production areas of RTE meat and poultry processing establishments. This approach ensures establishments control Lm contamination in post-lethality exposed RTE products as detailed in regulation 9 CFR 430.

The  routine risk-based Lm (RLm) sampling program was designed to detect Lm in the environment of a production establishment.

  • RLMPRODC are routine product samples taken for post-lethality-exposed product, based on risk.
  • RLMCONT are routine food contact surface swab samples taken for post-lethality-exposed product, based on risk.
  • RLMENVR are routine samples of brine or chill water that does not come into direct contact with post-lethality-exposed product. When no RLMENVR samples test positive for Lm, no tables are shown.
  • RLMENVC are routine non-food contact environmental surface swabs samples exposed to the post-lethality environment, based on risk.

[Top of Page]


Results for 2015

Salmonella Results

  • FSIS analyzes a 325g sample to detect Salmonella. FSIS analyzed 3,399 samples for Salmonella in the RTEPROD_RAND sampling project and 9,788 samples in the RTEPROD_RISK sampling project (Table 44). Overall, seven samples tested positive (0.05% positive; 2 from RTEPROD_RAND and 5 from RTEPROD_RISK).

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) Results

  • FSIS analyzes a 25g sample to detect Lm. FSIS analyzed 3,277 samples for Lm as part of the RTEPROD_RAND sampling project and 9,479 samples for RTEPROD_RISK sampling project (Table 45). There were 43 positive samples detected (0.34% positive; 11 from RTEPROD_RAND and 32 from RTEPROD_RISK).

Routine Risk-Based Lm (RLm) Results

  • FSIS analyzed 537 product samples. Each product sample analyzed consists of five 25g sub-samples composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample (Table 46). FSIS identified seven positive samples (1.30% positive).
  • FSIS analyzed 5,325 food contact surface samples for Lm (Table 47).  Thirty-two positive samples were observed from a food contact surface swab (0.60% positive).
  • FSIS analyzed 536 non-food contact environmental samples. Each non-food contact environmental sample consists of five sample swabs. The five sample swabs are composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample (Table 48). FSIS identified 49 positive test samples for a percent positive rate of 9.14%.
Salmonella Results

Table 44: Percent Positive Salmonella Tests for RTE meat and poultry, CY 2015*

  RTEPROD_RAND RTEPROD_RISK Total
Number of Samples 3,399 9,788 13,187
Number of Positives 2 5 7
Percent Positive 0.06 0.05 0.05

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

* Since 2009 RTE product data has been reported by sampling project rather than by product category. Comparison to 2008 and earlier data can be done by using the project summary data.

Table 45: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE meat and poultry, CY 2015*

  RTEPROD_RAND RTEPROD_RISK Total
Number of Samples 3,277 9,479 12,756
Number of Positives 11 32 43
Percent Positive 0.34 0.34 0.34

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

* Since 2009 RTE product data has been reported by sampling project rather than by product category. Comparison to 2008 and earlier data can be done by using the project summary data.

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) Results

Table 46: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE meat and poultry products, CY 2015*

  RLMPRODC1
Number of Sampling Units 537
Number of Positives 7
Percent Positive 1.30

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

* Since 2009 RTE product data has been reported by sampling project rather than by product category. Comparison to 2008 and earlier data can be done by using the project summary data.

1 Each sample for the RLMPRODC sampling project consists of five 25g samples taken from the same RTE product. The five samples are composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample. 

Table 47: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE food contact surfaces, CY 2015 *

  RLMCONT
Number of Samples 5,325
Number of Positives 32
Percent Positive 0.60

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

Table 48: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE non-food contact environmental surfaces, CY 2015*

  RLMENVC1
Number of Sampling Units 536
Number of Positives 49
Percent Positive 9.14

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

1 Each sample for the RLMENVC sampling project consists of five environmental swab samples that are composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample.

[Top of Page]

Contact Information:

Food Safety and Inspection Service 
Office of Public Health Sciences 
Science Staff 
Questions: http://askfsis.custhelp.com/

Index of Tables & Figures | Results From Previous Years

[Top of Page]

 

Last Modified Feb 12, 2016