Field laboratories of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration collected and tested 11,312 import and 768 domestic seafood samples over a 9-year period (1990 to 1998) for the presence of Salmonella. The overall incidence of Salmonella was 7.2% for import and 1.3% for domestic seafood. Nearly 10% of import and 2.8% of domestic raw seafood were positive for Salmonella. The overall incidence of Salmonella in ready-to-eat seafood and shellfish eaten raw was 0.47% for domestic—one shucked oyster and one shark cartilage powder. The incidence in the 2,734 ready-to-eat import seafood was 2.6%—cooked shrimp, shellfish or fish paste, smoked fish, salted/dried fish, and caviar. The incidence in import shellfish consumed raw was 1% in oyster, 3.4% in clams, and 0% in mussels. The incidence in raw, import fish was 12.2%. Distribution of Salmonella in seafood on a regional basis indicated the incidence to be highest in central Pacific and Africa and lowest in Europe/Russia and North America (12% versus 1.6%). Data on a country basis indicated Vietnam to have the highest (30%) and Republic of Korea the lowest (0.7%). While the most frequent serotypes in import seafood were Salmonella Weltevreden (1st), Salmonella Senftenberg (2nd), Salmonella Lexington, and Salmonella Paratyphi-B (3rd, equal numbers for each serotype), the top 20 list included Salmonella Enteritidis (5th), Salmonella Newport (6th), Salmonella Thompson (7th), Salmonella Typhimurium (12th), and Salmonella Anatum (13th), commonly involved in foodborne illness in the United States. Because the incidence in the present study is based on only a small fraction of the seafood imported into the United States, efforts should be directed toward implementation of hazard analysis and critical control points to reduce the incidence of Salmonella in seafood without relying on testing for Salmonella.

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The opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.