The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) pathogen reduction–hazard analysis critical control point systems final rule, published in 1996, established Salmonella performance standards for broiler chicken, cow and bull, market hog, and steer and heifer carcasses and for ground beef, chicken, and turkey meat. In 1998, the FSIS began testing to verify that establishments are meeting performance standards. Samples are collected in sets in which the number of samples is defined but varies according to product class. A sample set fails when the number of positive Salmonella samples exceeds the maximum number of positive samples allowed under the performance standard. Salmonella sample sets collected at 1,584 establishments from 1998 through 2003 were examined to identify factors associated with failure of one or more sets. Overall, 1,282 (80.9%) of establishments never had failed sets. In establishments that did experience set failure(s), generally the failed sets were collected early in the establishment testing history, with the exception of broiler establishments where failure(s) occurred both early and late in the course of testing. Small establishments were more likely to have experienced a set failure than were large or very small establishments, and broiler establishments were more likely to have failed than were ground beef, market hog, or steer-heifer establishments. Agency response to failed Salmonella sample sets in the form of in-depth verification reviews and related establishment-initiated corrective actions have likely contributed to declines in the number of establishments that failed sets. A focus on food safety measures in small establishments and broiler processing establishments should further reduce the number of sample sets that fail to meet the Salmonella performance standard.

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