It has taken a lot of commitment from the managers at Butterball to adopt a Salmonella Initiative Program (SIP), but since it did the largest turkey processor in the United States has nearly eliminated incidences where Salmonella samplings at the plants have tested positive. Caleb Lilley, Butterball quality assurance laboratory manager, shared Butterball's experiences with its SIP at the 2014 International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta on January 28.

Ever since the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) established SIP guidelines in 2007 as a means to improve Salmonella control in broiler and turkey slaughter operations, Butterball has been actively implementing its SIP. The Butterball plant in Carthage, Mo. was the first U.S. poultry plant to receive approval to participate in the FSIS SIP program. Today, all of Butterball's plants participate.

To carry out its SIP, Butterball has established a Salmonella action team, which consists of managers from all departments involved in the process. "The biggest part of that is a commitment from those in management," said Lilley.

The team meets weekly. Its duties involve reviewing data from what is being done to reduce the risk of Salmonella at each facility. It shares what are the best practices among all of the facilities, going through the histories, evaluating what interventions have been done, determining what interventions will be used in the SIP program, and developing corrective action protocols. The team also commits to making sure the interventions are in place and working all the time.

Through using antimicrobials that are well-known in the industry as interventions during the evisceration, chilling, post-chilling and further processing stages, the Butterball SIP program has proven to be a worthwhile venture. Since establishing the SIP at Butterball, the samplings that test positive for Salmonella have dropped from 7.8 percent in 2006 to 0.21 percent in 2013.

"It's definitely changed how we think of our operations, especially from our raw side. We don't just go in thinking 'yields, yields, yields.' We have to think about intervention first," said Lilley.