The presence of salmonella in samples of most raw meat and poultry products tested by federal inspectors decreased slightly in the first quarter of 2006. The only increase was seen in ground beef, where a slight increase in salmonella rates increased.

With outbreaks of food borne diseases featuring more prominently in the media, the processing industry is under regulatory and consumer pressure to ensure the better safety of their products. Future FSIS testing will incorporate sampling of turkey carcasses and increase testing frequency at plants with process-control problems.

The change to the testing program is part of the FSIS’ bid to reduce Salmonella in raw meat and poultry products. FSIS figures from previous quarters had indicated recent spike in Salmonella cases at processing plants.

"Our goal is to work proactively to reduce the presence of salmonella on raw products before plants develop a pattern of poor performance," USDA under secretary for food safety Richard Raymond stated in February. "FSIS will more quickly report testing results and target establishments needing improvement, providing timely information to both consumers and industry."

FSIS will also begin quarterly posting on its Web site of the nationwide aggregate results of all sample results to give consumers more complete information about salmonella trends.