The U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) tests sets of samples of selected raw meat and poultry products for Salmonella to ensure that federally inspected establishments meet performance standards defined in the pathogen reduction–hazard analysis and critical control point system (PR-HACCP) final rule. In the present report, sample set results are described and associations between set failure and set and establishment characteristics are identified for 4,607 sample sets collected from 1998 through 2003. Sample sets were obtained from seven product classes: broiler chicken carcasses (n = 1,010), cow and bull carcasses (n = 240), market hog carcasses (n = 560), steer and heifer carcasses (n = 123), ground beef (n = 2,527), ground chicken (n = 31), and ground turkey (n = 116). Of these 4,607 sample sets, 92% (4,255) were collected as part of random testing efforts (A sets), and 93% (4,166) passed. However, the percentage of positive samples relative to the maximum number of positive results allowable in a set increased over time for broilers but decreased or stayed the same for the other product classes. Three factors associated with set failure were identified: establishment size, product class, and year. Set failures were more likely early in the testing program (relative to 2003). Small and very small establishments were more likely to fail than large ones. Set failure was less likely in ground beef than in other product classes. Despite an overall decline in set failures through 2003, these results highlight the need for continued vigilance to reduce Salmonella contamination in broiler chicken and continued implementation of programs designed to assist small and very small establishments with PR-HACCP compliance issues.

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Author notes

Present address: Department of Food Science & Technology, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA.