“While the prevalence of Salmonella contamination in regulated poultry products has decreased by more than 50 percent in recent years, there has not been a reduction in human illnesses attributable to poultry,” a new USDA report says.

USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has released a survey of Not-Ready-to-Eat Breaded and Stuffed Chicken Products for Salmonella. The June report was prepared by FSIS’s Laboratory Quality Assurance, Response, and Coordination (LQARCS) staff in the Office of Public Health.

According to the survey report: “FSIS worked with the Food Emergency Response Network to test for the presence of Salmonella and sanitary indicator aerobic organism counts using the current validated methods employed by 11 state public health and agriculture laboratories. From July 1, 2022, to September 30, 2022, the laboratories purchased approximately 15 samples of the product per month from nearby retail locations.

It said: “Over one million Salmonella illnesses occur annually, with more than 23 percent of foodborne salmonellosis attributed to poultry consumption. From 1998 to 2021, FSIS and public health partners investigated 14 Salmonella illness outbreaks associated with the consumption of unready-to-eat breaded and stuffed chicken products. To learn more, FSIS conducted a non-scientific study to determine the presence of Salmonella in these products.”

Survey Highlights

  • Participating laboratories using the same Salmonella detection and sample preparation as FSIS MLG 4.12 found Salmonella in these products nearly 27 percent of the time. This is similar to the rate of 29 percent found in further processed chicken parts or comminuted products, commonly used as the source material for this product1.
  • Using the larger sample size called for in the FSIS MLG 4.12 Salmonella method, laboratories detected Salmonella at a higher rate than in smaller samples. This difference is likely due to low levels of Salmonella contamination or uneven distribution in the product.
  • Whole genome sequencing (WGS) results identified all three of the FSIS Key Performance Indicator (KPI) serotypes Enteritidis, Infantis, and Typhimurium in these products. KPI strains represented 74% of all Salmonella positives; the remainder were S. Kentucky.

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