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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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Web Content Viewer (JSR 286)

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FSIS Microbiological Testing Program for Ready-to-Eat (RTE) Meat and Poultry Products, 1990–2017

 


Introduction

The Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has conducted a regulatory microbiological testing program for Ready-to-Eat (RTE) meat and poultry products since 1983. RTE products are fully cooked before packaging and do not require further cooking by the consumer. However, these products are susceptible to contamination with pathogens during peeling, slicing, repackaging, and other processing steps after the required kill step to eliminate pathogens. Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) is a pathogen of particular concern for RTE products, because it is capable of growth at refrigerated temperatures. Processing establishments ensure RTE products do not become contaminated with Lm or other pathogens of concern, such as Salmonella, by applying a treatment to the product after its exposure to the processing environment (post-lethality treatment), and use a growth inhibitor (antimicrobial agent or process) to prevent the growth of L. monocytogenes in the product up to its declared shelf life.

FSIS laboratories located in Alameda, CA, St. Louis, MO, and Athens, GA analyze RTE samples for microbial hazards of public health concern, including Lm and Salmonella. The data reported here are from sampling projects conducted from 1990 through 2017.

FSIS does not view the results of regulatory testing as estimates of national product prevalence. The agency, however, does consider the RTE regulatory results to be an indicator of the trends in pathogen presence in these products.  

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Current Sampling Programs

Currently, FSIS samples RTE products through three sampling programs: RTEPROD_RAND, RTEPROD_RISK, and RLm.

FSIS conducts routine sampling of RTE products under RTEPROD_RAND and RTEPROD_RISK.  

  • RTEPROD_RAND samples are taken randomly at establishments producing RTE products. FSIS maintains separate programs for each pathogen.
    • RTEPROD_RAND Lm 
    • RTEPROD_RAND Salmonella
  • RTEPROD_RISK samples are taken for post-lethality-exposed product, based on risk. FSIS maintains separate programs for each pathogen.
    • RTEPROD_RISK Lm
    • RTEPROD_RISK Salmonella

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) can grow and persist in the food-processing processing environment. FSIS inspectors collect food samples, samples from food contact surfaces, and from non-food contact environmental surfaces in the post-lethality production areas of RTE meat and poultry processing establishments. This approach ensures establishments control Lm contamination in post-lethality exposed RTE products as detailed in regulation 9 CFR 430.

The routine risk-based Lm (RLm) sampling program was designed to detect Lm in the environment of a production establishment.

  • RLMPRODC are routine product samples taken for post-lethality-exposed product, based on risk.
  • RLMCONT are routine food contact surface swab samples taken for post-lethality-exposed product, based on risk.
  • RLMENVR are routine samples of brine or chill water that does not come into direct contact with post-lethality-exposed product.
    • When no RLMENVR samples test positive for Lm, no tables are shown.
  • RLMENVC are routine non-food contact environmental surface swabs samples exposed to the post-lethality environment, based on risk.

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Highlights of how the 2017 results differ from 2016’s, in the RTE Sampling Programs

  • Routine Salmonella sampling of RTE products under RTEPROD_RAND and RTEPROD_RISK.
    • In 2017, positive samples showed a major decrease – overall, one sample-tested positive out of 14,645 (0.01% positive) compared to 2016, where 14 samples tested positive out of 13,977 (0.10% positive).
  • Routine Listeria monocytogenes sampling of RTE products under RTEPROD_RAND and RTEPROD_RISK.
    • In 2017, positive samples were similar – 30 samples tested positive out of 14,646 (0.20% positive) compared to 2016, where 27 samples tested positive out of 13,983 (0.19% positive).
  • Routine risk-based sampling project designed to obtain intact RTE food product samples for Lm (RLMPRODC)
    • In 2017, positive samples decreased – zero positive samples were identified from 468 (0.0% positive) compared to 2016, where two positive samples from 515 were identified (0.39% positive).
  • Routine risk-based sampling project designed to obtain food contact surface samples for Lm (RLMCONT)
    • In 2017, positive samples increased – eight positive samples were identified from 4,614 (0.17% positive) compared to 2016, where seven positive samples from 5,133 were identified (0.14% positive).
  • Routine risk-based sampling project designed to obtain non-food contact and environmental surfaces for Lm (RLMENVC)
    • In 2017, positive samples increased – 41 positive samples were identified from 465 (8.82% positive) compared to 2016, where 33 positive samples from 514 were identified (6.42% positive).

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Results for 2017

Salmonella Results

  • FSIS analyzes a 325g sample to detect Salmonella. FSIS analyzed 6,892 samples for Salmonella in the RTEPROD_RAND sampling project and 7,753 samples in the RTEPROD_RISK sampling project (Table 54). Overall, one sample tested positive (0.01 % positive; 0 from RTEPROD_RAND and 1 from RTEPROD_RISK).

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) Results

  • FSIS analyzes a 25g sample to detect Lm. FSIS analyzed 6,892 samples for Lm as part of the RTEPROD_RAND sampling project and 7,754 samples for RTEPROD_RISK sampling project (Table 55). There were 30 positive samples detected (0.20 % positive; 13 from RTEPROD_RAND and 17 from RTEPROD_RISK)..

Routine Risk-Based Lm (RLm) Results

  • FSIS analyzed 468 product samples. Each product sample analyzed consists of five 25g sub-samples composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample (Table 56). FSIS identified zero positive samples (0.0% positive).
  • FSIS analyzed 4,614 food contact surface samples for Lm (Table 57).  Eight positive samples were observed from a food contact surface swab (0.17% positive).
  • FSIS analyzed 465 non-food contact environmental samples. Each non-food contact environmental sample consists of five sample swabs. The five sample swabs are composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample (Table 58). FSIS identified 41 positive test samples for a percent positive rate of 8.82%.

Tables

Salmonella Results

Table 54: Percent Positive Salmonella Tests for RTE meat and poultry, CY 2017*

  RTEPROD_RAND RTEPROD_RISK Total
Number of Samples 6,892 7,753 14,645
Number of Positives 0 1 1
Percent Positive 0.00 0.01 0.01

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

* Since 2009 RTE product data has been reported by sampling project rather than by product category. Comparison to 2008 and earlier data can be done by using the project summary data.

Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) Results

Table 55: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE meat and poultry, CY 2017*

  RTEPROD_RAND RTEPROD_RISK Total
Number of Samples 6,892 7,754 14,646
Number of Positives 13 17 30
Percent Positive 0.19 0.22 0.20

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

* Since 2009 RTE product data has been reported by sampling project rather than by product category. Comparison to 2008 and earlier data can be done by using the project summary data.

Table 56: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE meat and poultry products, CY 2017*

  RLMPRODC1
Number of Sampling Units 468
Number of Positives 0
Percent Positive 0.00

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

* Since 2009 RTE product data has been reported by sampling project rather than by product category. Comparison to 2008 and earlier data can be done by using the project summary data.

1 Each sample for the RLMPRODC sampling project consists of five 25g samples taken from the same RTE product. The five samples are composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample.

Table 57: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE food contact surfaces, CY 2017 *

  RLMCONT
Number of Samples 4,614
Number of Positives 8
Percent Positive 0.17

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

Table 58: Percent Positive L. monocytogenes Tests for RTE non-food contact environmental surfaces, CY 2017*

  RLMENVC1
Number of Sampling Units 465
Number of Positives 41
Percent Positive 8.82

Data source: USDA FSIS Data

1 Each sample for the RLMENVC sampling project consists of five environmental swab samples that are composited at the testing laboratory into a single test sample.


Contact Information:

Food Safety and Inspection Service 
Office of Public Health Sciences 
Science Staff 
Questions: http://askfsis.custhelp.com/

Index of Tables & Figures | Results From Previous Years

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Last Modified Mar 02, 2018