In a report, the group Food and Water Watch said USDA should publish on a quarterly basis figures for salmonella tests at the plants. At present, the agency releases a national average but does not list plants individually.

Wenonah Hauter, head of Food and Water Watch, said USDA ought to "routinely test all plants and disclose the results." They are suggesting that the Agriculture Department should seek legislation to allow it to shut down U.S. poultry processing plants that have too much salmonella bacteria in their product.

USDA began sampling for salmonella in the late 1990s but was barred by a 2001 U.S. district court ruling from withdrawing federal inspection from a plant if it failed to meet standards for controlling salmonella.