The prevalence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry continues to decrease, according to data released by USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service.

In calendar year 2002, FSIS took 58,085 Salmonella samples compared to 45,941 in 2001, a 26.4 percent increase in the number of samples taken. However, the percentage of samples testing positive for Salmonella across all commodities dropped from 5.0 percent to 4.3 percent.

"This data tells us that we are making steady and sustained progress in reducing the incidence of Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products," says Elsa Murano, USDA Under Secretary for Food Safety. "This positive trend in regulatory samples will hopefully translate into fewer cases of Salmonellosis due to meat and poultry."

FSIS collects and analyzes regulatory Salmonella samples in seven categories: broilers; market hogs; cows/bulls; steer/heifer; ground beef; ground chicken; and ground turkey. In every category, Salmonella prevalence levels continue to register well below baselines set prior to the implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points system.