Data released by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that the prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry has decreased from levels prior to the implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (PR/HACCP) system of inspection.

Agriculture Secretary Ann M. Veneman commented: "This data shows Salmonella prevalence levels well below the product baselines set prior to HACCP [… which] indicates that HACCP has contributed to a reduction in the prevalence of Salmonella in the nation¹s meat and poultry products."

Implementation of PR/HACCP, a science-based inspection system, began in
1998. The system requires that establishments develop a plan to prevent hazards and reduce pathogens in products.

In only the second year of aggregate data on all sizes of plants, the new data indicates for combined test results, that all categories of product show improvement over baseline studies conducted prior to PR/HACCP implementation. 

Combined test results for establishments of all sizes show lower salmonella prevalence in 1998-2001 than in baseline studies: broilers average 10.7% under HACCP, compared to 20% prior to HACCP; market hogs average 5.4% compared to 8.7%; cows and bulls average 2.2% compared to 2.7%; steers and heifers average 0.4% compared to 1%; ground beef averages 3.4% compared to 7.5%; ground chicken averages 15.7% compared to 44.6%; and ground turkey averages 29.2% compared to 49.9%.

Annual data shows that, in some products, such as broilers, prevalence increased by slight percentage points from CY 2000 to CY 2001, but it declined in other products, such as ground beef. Despite the minor fluctuations, Salmonella prevalence, in all classes of products, have decreased to levels below the baseline prevalence estimates determined prior to HACCP.

The decrease in the prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry from 1998 2001 correlates with reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicating a decline in human illnesses linked to Salmonella during the same time period. Salmonella is one of the leading causes of foodborne illness and consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can Cause salmonellosis.

"HACCP has played a vital role in reducing pathogens," said Dr. Elsa Murano, undersecretary for food safety: "While the prevalence of Salmonella in meat and poultry products has declined, USDA is continuously working to further reduce the prevalence of pathogens in meat and poultry and to improve food safety at each step of food production, from farm to table."