Progress Report on Salmonella and Campylobacter Testing of Raw Meat and Poultry Products, CY 1998-2012

Executive Summary 1

In calendar year 2012, FSIS analyzed 30,686 verification samples across eight meat and poultry product classes with the following percent positive rate of Salmonella per product class: young chicken (4.3%), market hog (1.3%)2, cow/bull (0.0%)2, steer/heifer (1.1%)2, ground beef (1.9%), ground chicken (28%), ground turkey (11%) and turkey (2.2%).  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 2012, 79.77% of establishments are in Category 1. Based on five product classes, the following percentages of establishments are in Category 1: young chicken (73.14%), ground beef (82.86%), ground chicken (71.42%), ground turkey (90.9%), and turkey (82.35%). 

The Agency established a revised 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. 

2012 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.3

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 onward). An establishment with its last set ≤ 50% of the performance standard or guidance and the prior set is not ≤ 50%  of the performance standard is 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.


This report presents percent positive Salmonella sample results and percent of sample sets meeting the Salmonella performance standards listed by product class and PR/HACCP establishment size for 2012 and previous years (Table A1 and A3). Data is presented in aggregate form for the periods 1998-2012 (Table A2 and A4).4

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 2011 are counted in the 2011 results (Table A1). However if the sample set was completed in 2012, the set was counted in 2012 (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 2006 to 2012 with baseline prevalence by product class and year. Percentages of sample sets meeting Salmonella performance standards by product class from 2006 to 2012 are presented in Figure B2.

Young Chicken
FSIS continues to direct resources toward testing young chicken establishments. In 2012 (Table A1), 10,933 Salmonella samples were analyzed from young chicken establishments. The total percentage of positive samples was 4.3% in 2012, down from 6.5%, 6.7%, 7.2%, and 7.3% in 2011, 2010, 2009, and 2008, respectively. In addition, of the 178 sets completed in 2012 at young chicken establishments, 89.33% met the Salmonella performance standard compared to 96% (100 sets completed) in 2011, 94.8 (134 sets completed) in 2010, and 95.7% (140 sets completed) in 2009 (Table A3).

At the end of 2012, 128 young chicken establishments eligible for federal testing were in Category 1, comprising 73.14% of all young chicken establishments (Table A5) which was down from 86.7% in 2011. Furthermore in 2012, thirteen young chicken establishments (7.42%) were in Category 2T. Nineteen young chicken establishments were in Category 2 (10.85%). Fifteen young chicken establishments were in Category 3, making up 8.57% of all young chicken establishments. In 2011, 86.7% of young chicken establishments eligible for Salmonella sampling were in Category 1 defined, in part, through the performance standard that existed prior to July 2011.

Summary information for Salmonella Enteritidis (SE) test results for Young Chicken (Figure C1) show a 0.84% positive rate among the samples taken in 2012, which is down from 1.78% for 2011.

Ground Beef 
In 2012, 14,665 ground beef samples were analyzed and 1.9% tested positive for Salmonella. This compares to 2011, when 13,161 samples were analyzed (2.4% positive), and to 2010 when 9,256 samples were analyzed (2.2% positive). Two hundred forty-four sets were completed with 95.9% meeting the performance standard, compared to 2011 when 205 sets were completed (94.1% met the performance standard), and 2010 when 175 sets were completed (96.6% met the performance standard).

82.86% (237 establishments) were in Category 1, 7.69% percent (22 establishments) were in Category 2T, 7.69% (22 establishments) in Category 2, and 1.74% (5 establishments) in Category 3. In 2011, 83% of ground beef establishments eligible for Salmonella testing were in Category 1.

Ground Chicken
In 2012, 1,376 samples were analyzed, with a total of 28% percent positive as compared to 30.9% (466 samples) in 2011. The total percent of completed sample sets meeting the performance standard was 76.92%.

71.42% (5 establishments) of ground chicken establishments were in Category 1 at the end of 2012, with 1 establishment in category 2T, none in Category 2, and 14.28% (1 establishment) in Category 3. In 2011, 75% of ground chicken establishments eligible for Salmonella sampling were in Category 1.

Ground Turkey
In 2012, 1,155 samples were analyzed with a total percent positive at 11%, compared to 12.3% in 2011 (511 samples) and 10.2% in 2010 (873 samples). Nineteen sets were completed and all 19 passed for 2012, similar to 2011, when all 14 sets completed passed, and to 2010 when all 9 sets completed passed.

90.9% (20 establishments) of ground turkey establishments were in Category 1, with 1 establishment in Category 2T, 1 in Category 2, and none in Category 3. In 2011, 100% of ground turkey establishments eligible for Salmonella sampling were in Category 1.

NOTE: Per Federal Register Notice FSIS-2012-0007, FSIS is currently redefining the sampling frames for 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.

In 2012, 2,183 turkey samples were analyzed, with a total percent positive at 2.2%, down from 2.4% positive in 2011. Of the 33 sets completed in 2012, 93.94% of these establishments met the Salmonella performance standard.

82.35% (28 establishments) were in Category 1, with 11.76% (4 establishments) in Category 2T, 2.94% (1 establishment) in Category 2, and 2.94% (1 establishment) in Category 3. In 2011, 82% of turkey establishments eligible for Salmonella testing were in Category 1.

[1] All years listed are calendar years (CY)
[2] In the third quarter of 2011, new scheduling of sampling was discontinued until further notice for three product classes: market hog, cow/bull, and steer/heifer. The data, here, represents follow-through samples from sets previously scheduled for these product classes and carried to completion. See tables for samples analyzed for these product classes.
[3] Restructuring how Salmonella sets are scheduled means that it would be inappropriate to compare results prior to 2006 to results after 2006.
[4] An establishment’s HACCP size may change over time; these tables reflect the size of the plant at the time the sample was collected.


Annual Progress Report on Salmonella and Campylobacter Testing of Raw Meat and Poultry Products (1998-2011) | PDF


Last Modified Jun 21, 2013