November 25, 2003



Tests Show Meat, Poultry Salmonella In US Down 66% In 6 Years


U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ann Veneman Monday announced that the rate of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry dropped by 66% over the past six years and by 16% compared with 2002, in a Food Safety and Inspection Service release.


The FSIS is the public health regulatory agency responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome and labeled accurately. FSIS has more than 8,000 inspection personnel stationed in meat and poultry plants across the nation to ensure compliance with federal laws and regulations.


As part of an extensive science-based food safety system, FSIS collects and analyzes Salmonella samples in seven categories of raw meat and poultry as a way to verify compliance with food safety requirements.


Of the random samples collected and analyzed from Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 3.6% tested positive for Salmonella, compared with 4.29% in 2002; 5.03% in 2001; 5.31% in 2000; 7.26% in 1999, and 10.65% in 1998, the FSIS said.


"These figures demonstrate that strong, science based enforcement of food safety rules is driving down the rate of Salmonella," said Agriculture Undersecretary for Food Safety Elsa Murano in the release. "These data validate our scientific approach to protecting public health through safer food."


The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently announced data showing similar reductions in E.coli O157:H7 in ground beef and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.


Earlier this year, the USDA outlined a series of new, science-based initiatives to better understand, predict and prevent microbiological contamination of meat and poultry products, thereby improving health outcomes for American families. These steps include increased training of inspectors, expediting the approval of new technologies, creation of a risk assessment coordination team and conducting research on priority areas.


In addition to these efforts, consumer knowledge of safe food handling and cooking is essential, FSIS said.

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