Ready-to-eat (RTE) meat and poultry product samples from the random ALLRTE and risk-based RTE001 sampling projects of the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) were tested for both Listeria monocytogenes and Salmonella. In the course of analyzing Salmonella data for calendar years 2005 to 2012, it was observed that 8 (17.0%) of 47 positive samples were from pork barbecue. The eight Salmonella-positive samples, from seven establishments in a single state, were from 1,085 pork barbecue samples tested nationwide (0.74% positive) and from 296 samples tested from that one state (2.7% positive). The seven establishments represented 30.4% of 23 federal establishments in that state that had pork barbecue samples tested for Salmonella. A follow-up sample from intensified verification testing at one of the seven establishments also was positive for Salmonella. Upon further examination, contamination appeared to be influenced by regional differences in production methods. Notably, the style of pork barbecue that tested positive for Salmonella used a vinegar- and pepper-based sauce in which the ingredients were mixed without cooking. All the establishments with Salmonella-positive samples followed the practice of first cooking the pork and then adding the barbecue sauce ingredients (vinegar, pepper, other spices, etc.) after cooking (postlethality exposure). In addition to the sauce ingredients, other possible sources of contamination included employee hygiene and food handling practices and cross-contamination from other Salmonella-contaminated products and from commonly used equipment. Based on these findings, the FSIS issued guidelines recommending changes in production methods that would minimize or eliminate pork barbecue as a potential source of foodborne Salmonella infections.

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