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...

The FSIS Salmonella Action Plan: A Year One Update

January 2015

Introduction

Preventing foodborne illness and protecting public health are the primary roles of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). The leading cause of foodborne illness in the United States is Salmonella. An estimated 1.2 million illnesses are thought to be caused every year by Salmonella, with approximately 360,000 Salmonella illnesses attributed to FSIS-regulated products in FY2014. After a decade in which there was little progress in bringing down the rate of illness from Salmonella, in 2012, the FSIS Administrator decided to take a new tack. He established the Strategic Performance Working Group (SPWG) to critically review data and to solicit and coordinate new ideas within the Agency on how to improve the Agency’s performance, and its first target was Salmonella.

On December 4, 2013, FSIS released its Salmonella Action Plan (the Plan) outlining the steps the Agency intended to take to address Salmonella in FSIS-regulated products. The Plan sets out the strategies that the SPWG had developed and identifies key areas for Agency improvement and specific supporting activities to achieve that improvement. The strategies include near-term and longer-term goals and activities.

FSIS is issuing this report to outline the Agency’s accomplishments during its first year of implementing the Plan and to preview the actions that the Agency intends to take in the coming year to reduce Salmonella illnesses and improve public health. Thus, this report demonstrates the Agency’s ongoing commitment to the plan.

FSIS Accomplishments and On-Going Activities

1. Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection

FSIS identified changes to modernize the regulation of poultry slaughter and estimated that changes in these inspection activities are likely to result in a reduction of nearly 5,000 Salmonella illnesses per year in the United States.

Accomplishments

In August, 2014, FSIS published Modernization of Poultry Slaughter Inspection; Final Rule in the Federal Register, announcing the New Poultry Inspection System (NPIS) and a tiered implementation plan for NPIS. The publication of the Final Rule in the Federal Register fulfilled the Agency’s commitment for this item.

On-Going Activities

FSIS is beginning the rule implementation process. Importantly, the Agency has begun implementing the requirements in the rule that establishments to do their own testing.

2. Sampling Related Activities

To ensure that FSIS’s sampling for Salmonella is in line with current and emerging trends in foodborne illness, FSIS committed to undertaking a number of actions consistent with the Agency’s data-driven approach to preventing illnesses.

Accomplishments

FSIS initiated a sampling program to estimate the national prevalence of Salmonella in comminuted poultry products. Data from this program are published in FSIS’s quarterly Salmonella report. In Fiscal Year 2014, FSIS gathered sufficient data to estimate national prevalence of Salmonella in comminuted poultry products for use in the development of performance standards. FSIS also initiated a sampling program for pork products at retail to begin evaluating Salmonella levels on different pork products. FSIS recently proposed performance standards for chicken parts and comminuted poultry in the Federal Register. (On January 21, 2015, USDA and FSIS announced that this proposal would be published.) Overall, 100% of the Agency’s commitments for the first year under the plan were met.

On-Going Activities

FSIS is continuing to sample comminuted poultry products at FSIS-regulated establishments and is using the data it collects to refine its inspection activities. In March 2015, the Agency plans to begin routine sampling of raw chicken parts as one of the several routine verification testing programs. Also in March 2015, FSIS intends to begin exploratory sampling of raw pork products. Moreover, in March, FSIS also intends to begin sampling imported poultry carcasses, imported raw chicken parts, and imported NRTE comminuted chicken and turkey for Salmonella and Campylobacter. These activities are part of FSIS’s on-going efforts to continually refine our sampling programs to better protect public health.

3. Develop New In-Plant Strategies

FSIS is working to ensure that its inspection resources are focused on the areas of greatest concern, while still assessing overall performance. Providing inspection program personnel with more information about an establishment’s performance will help to identify the areas of concern and will provide a strong foundation for enforcement actions should they be necessary.

Accomplishments

To better understand how establishments that produce comminuted poultry are addressing the problems that they confront, FSIS conducted Hazard Analysis Verifications (HAVs) in 258 of the 260 FSIS-regulated establishments that produce comminuted poultry. FSIS also began conducting Food Safety Assessments (FSAs) in all of these establishments. As of the beginning of November, FSIS had completed FSAs in 154 establishments that produce comminuted poultry. FSIS fulfilled 100% of the expectations for the first year under the plan.

On-Going Activities

The Agency is continuing to analyze HAVs and conduct FSAs in comminuted poultry operations. Analysis of the HAVs is ongoing. Additionally, FSIS is improving the training for its inspectors in poultry establishments. The Agency is also developing processes to better inform inspectors about an establishment’s performance characteristics.

4. Develop a Directive for Sanitary Dressing in Hogs

There is evidence from outbreak data that pork products contribute significantly to Salmonella illnesses. Decreasing contamination from poor sanitary dressing procedures in hog slaughter establishments will decrease the likelihood of Salmonella on hog carcasses. FSIS does not have a Directive for verification activities related to sanitary dressing in hog slaughter establishments.

Accomplishments

FSIS has developed a draft Directive for Hog Sanitary Dressings. The Agency is developing training materials before implementing the directive. Because the draft directive has not yet published, this goal is considered to be 75% complete for the first year under the plan.

On-Going Activities

FSIS will finalize and publish the Directive and implement appropriate training. Materials will be disseminated to all eligible IPP. The training will likely improve sanitary dressing and thereby reduce contamination and, presumably, illnesses.

5. Consider Modifying How we Post Salmonella Categories

Analyses done by FSIS show that posting information on the FSIS website on how plants are performing under the Salmonella carcass standards for young chickens led to improved control of this pathogen. This information is also valuable to companies that purchase chicken meat for further processing. Therefore, FSIS believes that making information about the performance of establishments available to the public will provides an incentive for industry to improve process control.

Accomplishments

In the Federal Register Notice that FSIS announced on January 21, 2015, on standards for chicken parts and comminuted poultry, FSIS is proposing to list the names of chicken slaughter plants in each performance category on its website. With the publication of the Federal Register Notice, the Agency has met its commitment for the first year under the plan.

On-Going Activities

FSIS continues to evaluate Salmonella results to assess the effectiveness of FSIS’s policies and identify ways to facilitate improvements for the industry.

6. Other Performance Standard Related Activities

Aligning FSIS Salmonella performance standards to Healthy People 2020 (HP2020) goals and focusing activities on improving the performance of establishments relative to those standards will move the agency closer to meeting these foodborne illness reduction goals.

Accomplishments

FSIS conducted risk assessments to identify performance standards targeted to meet the HP2020 Salmonella goals. On the basis of those results, the Agency is proposing—in the FRN announced on January 21, 2015—to establish, for the first time, performance standards for chicken parts and revised, more strict, performance standards for comminuted poultry. Those standards will use a continuous sampling, moving window approach that allows for an assessment of Salmonella prevalence in establishments. Most of the specific activities committed to in the Plan were achieved in FY2014. Thus, this goal is considered to be 100% complete for the first year under the plan.

On-Going Activities

In the next year, FSIS will review comments received on the FRN, make adjustments as necessary, and, unless convinced otherwise by the comments, implement performance standards for chicken parts and comminuted poultry.

7. Develop New Enforcement Strategies

FSIS continually evaluates inspection data to identify and refine enforcement strategies. Current efforts are focused on developing a robust systems approach that links all relevant data from an establishment to assess its overall performance. Because this goal did not contain any FY2014 activities, progress is noted in the chart below as “not applicable.”

8. Explore the Contribution of Lymph Nodes to Salmonella Contamination

Given that Salmonella can reside inside of lymph nodes, FSIS is exploring the potential contribution of lymph nodes to Salmonella levels in FSIS-regulated products.

Accomplishments:

FSIS partnered with other USDA agencies (the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS)) and had discussions with industry to evaluate the potential contributions lymph nodes make to Salmonella contamination. FSIS and USDA’s Economic Research Service compared the percentage of positive Salmonella samples in ground beef purchased by AMS for the National School Lunch Program with other FSIS-inspected ground beef.[1] Although the percentage of samples that tested positive for Salmonella is significantly lower in the AMS-purchased ground beef compared to the other ground beef, the differences could not be directly attributed to the presence or absence of lymph nodes because of other confounding factors. Given the work completed but the inconclusive results of the analysis and the need to pursue the longer term activities described below, this goal is considered to be 75% complete for the first year under the plan.

On-Going Activities

FSIS continues to review information on how inspection and inclusion of different lymph nodes in ground beef affects Salmonella contamination in the product, including partnering with ARS to explore the potential public health impacts of Salmonella in lymph nodes. Findings will be incorporated into future revised slaughter guidance materials.

9. Pre-harvest Related Activities

Pre-harvest contamination can affect the level of Salmonella on FSIS-regulated products. Synthesizing information on pre-harvest interventions could help identify appropriate practices to decrease the prevalence or levels of Salmonella on FSIS-regulated products.

Accomplishments

Information about pre-harvest interventions was collected from previous public meetings and is included in the new draft of a guidance document under development that is entitled FSIS Compliance Guideline for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry. The document is in Agency clearance. A summary of pre-harvest related activities was developed and incorporated into guidelines rather than a separate publication. Hence, this goal is determined to be 50% complete for the first year under the plan.

On-Going Activities

The Agency will analyze the data it has gathered on pre-harvest activities and will evaluate whether it should recommend changes to pre-harvest practices to reduce Salmonella contamination. After obtaining clearance, FSIS will publish the revised FSIS Compliance Guidelines for Controlling Salmonella and Campylobacter in Raw Poultry.

10. Focus the Agency’s Education and Outreach Tools and Resources on Salmonella

FSIS has long maintained that new approaches or routes for providing Salmonella-related food safety messages to the public could help decrease Salmonella illnesses.

Accomplishments

In FY 2014, FSIS developed a two-part webinar series about food safety. Several hundred people attended the September 10, 2014, session during which food safety experts discussed common foodborne illnesses, specifically Salmonella. Additionally, the Agency continues to utilize FoodSafety.gov as an outreach tool. FSIS delivered a well-received Salmonella blog on FoodSafety.gov in 2014. In June 2014, the Agency conducted two Twitter chats about Salmonella. The Agency made great progress with webinars, blogs, and Twitter in 2014 but has not fully developed or provided the information through Food and Nutrition Service nutrition programs as committed to for the year. Thus, the goal is determined to be 75% complete for the first year under the plan.

On-Going Activities

FSIS is continuing to develop web resources addressing Salmonella and is identifying any existing web-resources that may require updating to maintain relevancy and accuracy. FSIS continues to work collaboratively with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service to expand outreach on food safety issues, especially Salmonella.

Progress Snapshot

Progress made on the near-term goals was monitored using an ongoing tracking process and summarized by members of the SPWG. The results of this enumeration are illustrated in the chart below.

Salmonella Action Plan Progress During the First Year

Graph illustrating progress on 10 goals in the Salmonella Action Plan.

 

Summary

FSIS has made significant progress on the actions outlined in Plan in the year since its announcement. Bolstered by our progress, FSIS is re-affirming its commitment to the activities outlined in the Plan, which will ultimately decrease the number of Salmonella illnesses associated with FSIS-regulated products.



 

Last Modified Mar 24, 2015