The prevalence of Salmonella on raw young chicken carcasses is down 34 percent over the first quarter of 2013 and represents a decrease of over 120 percent during the past five years, according to the Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service's (FSIS) "Quarterly Progress Reports on Salmonella and Campylobacter Testing of Selected Raw Meat and Poultry Products" released on October 25.
This report contained testing information from April 1 through June 30. Specifically for young chicken carcasses, 2,955 samples were collected and analyzed with a positive rate of only 2.6 percent for Salmonella - a fraction of the USDA FSIS performance standard of 7.5 percent for young chicken carcasses. The same samples were also analyzed for Campylobacter and while the percent positive remained unchanged from the first quarter of 2013, it represents a decrease of almost 50 percent 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 the second quarter of 2013, 70.1 percent of young chicken establishments were in Category 1 compared with 67.6 percent during the first quarter of 2013. Additionally, the number of establishments in Category 3 has dropped by almost 35 percent 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, Ph.D., 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 percent for Salmonella and 10.4 percent for Campylobacter. These 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 of 2013 and is expected to publish a new standard for chicken parts in 2014.