The USDA has announced a new initiative to reduce Salmonella contamination in raw meat and poultry, mainly by focusing more effort on processing facilities that need improvement and reporting test results faster.

A steady increase in Salmonella in broiler chickens tested by the USDA since 2002 is among the reasons for the initiative, the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service said in announcing the program on Feb 23. About 16% of broiler samples tested positive in 2005.

The FSIS said it will concentrate its resources on facilities with higher levels of Salmonella and will provide sample-by-sample test results to facilities as soon as they become available.