Tests show rate of salmonella dropped

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WASHINGTON – The rate of salmonella in raw meat and poultry dropped by 66 percent over the past six years and by 16 percent compared with 2002.

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service is the public health regulatory agency responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled.

The service 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, the inspection service collects and analyzes salmonella samples in seven categories of raw meat and poultry as one way to verify compliance with food safety requirements.

Numbers. Of the random samples collected and analyzed between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2003 by Food Safety and Inspection Service, 3.6 percent tested positive for salmonella, as compared with 4.29 percent in 2002; 5.03 percent in 2001; 5.31 percent in 2000; 7.26 percent in 1999; and 10.65 percent in 1998.

USDA recently announced data showing similar reductions in E. coli in ground beef and Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat meat and poultry products.

Initiatives. Earlier this year, 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.

For more information call 888-647-6854 or visit www.usda.gov.

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