Tests show salmonella in meat and poultry products drop 66%

US - Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman today announced that 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.
calendar icon 25 November 2003
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“The Bush Administration is committed to protecting the public health and improving our food safety systems,“ said Veneman. “These results show that we are making progress in our efforts to enhance meat and poultry inspection systems. This is good news for consumers.“

The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the public health regulatory agency responsible for ensuring that meat, poultry and egg products are safe, wholesome and accurately labeled. 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 one way to verify compliance with food safety requirements.

Of the random samples collected and analyzed between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2003 by FSIS, 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.

“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 Dr. Elsa Murano. “These data validate our scientific approach to protecting public health through safer food.“

USDA 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, 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. Veneman said that USDA is working to enhance consumer education through a variety of programs including a traveling Food Safety Mobile that takes the information directly to consumers.

“It is important that consumers and food handlers know how to properly cook and handle food,“ said Veneman. “USDA has a wealth of information available. Especially during this holiday season, consumers can call our Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888 MPHotline (888-647-6854) or visit www.usda.gov for helpful information.“

Source: - USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service - 25th November 2003

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