Salmonella is a food-borne bacteria, typically present in meat and poultry products.  An estimated 1.3 million illnesses can be attributed to Salmonella every year.  To address outbreaks of salmonella, the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) has released its Salmonella Action Plan that outlines the steps it will take to address Salmonella contamination of meat and poultry products.  The plan has been released to make meat and poultry products safer for consumption.

As reported by Adam Tarr of FSIS, one of the top priorities of the action plan is to modernize the outdated poultry slaughter inspection system.  Focusing on food safety should help prevent at least 5,000 illnesses.  Additionally, the plan includes enhancing sampling and testing programs, which will include the latest scientific information available, ensuring that the best available methods will be used to monitor the food products.  Furthermore, the plan includes “several actions FSIS will take to drive innovations that will lower Salmonella contamination rates, including establishing new performance standards; developing new strategies for inspection and throughout the full farm-to-table continuum; addressing all potential sources of Salmonella; and focusing the Agency’s education and outreach tools on Salmonella.”

These new efforts are meant to build upon the previous work done by the USDA to lower contamination rates.  In 2011, the new performance standards for Salmonella were set to reduce illnesses by 20,000 per year. After implementing these new strategies, Salmonella rates in young chickens have dropped over 75% since 2006.  Hopefully, this will let us all breathe a little easier this holiday season.