WASHINGTON—USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) posted the second quarterly progress for 2013 on Salmonella testing of selected raw meat and poultry products. The prevalence of Salmonella on raw young chicken carcasses in the United States declined 34% over first quarter 2013 and represents a decrease of more than 120% during the past five years.
The report, "Quarterly Progress Reports on Salmonella and Campylobacter Testing of Selected Raw Meat and Poultry Products", released Oct. 25 contained testing information from April 1 through June 20, 2013.
Specifically for young chicken carcasses, 2,955 samples were collected and analyzed with a positive rate of only 2.6% for Salmonella—a fraction of the FSIS performance standard of 7.5% for young chicken carcasses. The same samples also were analyzed for Campylobacter, and while the percentage remained unchanged from first quarter 2013, it represents a decrease of almost 50% since FSIS began testing for Campylobacter on post-chill young chicken carcasses in 2011.
The number of establishments in Category 1, or those establishments performing better than half of the performance standard for Salmonella was up from the previous quarter. In second quarter 2013, 70.1% of young chicken establishments were in Category 1 compared with 67.6% during first quarter 2013. The number of establishments in Category 3 also dropped by almost 35% indicating an improvement in performance at those establishments.
"Overall, the results presented in this quarterly report indicate that we continue to make improvements in the incidence rate of Salmonella and Campylobacter on young chicken carcasses," said Ashley Peterson, National Chicken Council vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. "Establishments continue to demonstrate progress which is evident by the increased number of establishments in Category 1 and the decreased number of establishments in Category 3."
FSIS performance standards must be met or exceeded by chicken processors. For young chicken carcasses just after they are removed from the chiller, the performance standard is 7.5% for Salmonella and 10.4% for Campylobacter. Samples are taken both by FSIS for verification and the plant itself prior to the carcasses being cut up, deboned or packaged whole. Though there is currently no performance standard for chicken parts, FSIS completed baseline testing in the Spring 2013 and is expected to publish a new standard for chicken parts in 2014.