Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
pork chops

WEBINAR: Use Quantitative Data To Target Salmonella Control

Posted August 25, 2021 by Dr. Steve Larsen, Technical Services Manager
Food Safety

Regulations around pathogen control for pork producers are set to change over the next several months as the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), an agency of the United State Department of Agriculture (USDA), moves closer to achieving Healthy People 2030 goals. These FSIS Performance Standards are in place for Salmonella control by poultry processors and are proposed for Salmonella control in ground beef.  FSIS had indicated that a Salmonella Performance Standard will soon come out for pork parts and ground/comminuted pork products.

Proposed Salmonella Performance Standards in ground beef are set to limit the number of positive Salmonella samples to no more than three over a 52-week rolling period in order to stay under thresholds.

Performance standards are centered on protecting public health, especially as it relates to Salmonella control. Performance standards also provide a systems approach to pathogen control by analyzing incidence starting at where product enters the plant and carrying through the entire system. One challenge to the standards is that data is based on a national average and may not be applicable to a specific processing plant.

Because performance standards are based on national averages, it’s more important than ever for individual processing plants to be able to tell their own food safety story. That story starts by collecting the right data that not only supports what is happening in your plant today, but how your company is dedicated to continuous improvement over time.

Qualitative data helps show where incidence of Salmonella is occurring at specific points within your processing facility. Start by establishing a baseline for pathogen incidence within your facility from incoming product and carry that baseline through to where final product is packaged before it leaves the plant. Then do your own data mapping to show location of pathogen discovery at specific processing points.

Data collection can help illustrate changes in Salmonella prevalence at different points of the processing system. Presence can be high initially when product enters the facility, then drop dramatically as the carcass moves through the system. Often, incidence jumps again once the carcass is split into parts, and those parts move through the system.

Data can also show the relationship between prevalence and quantity of pathogens. Remember that prevalence tracks the discovery of a pathogen regardless of the level of pathogen load. Salmonella prevalence and load is often large early in the processing system. But even though prevalence jumps higher when the carcass is split into parts, the load levels of that pathogen remain low. 

Collecting this quantitative data helps processors pinpoint where Salmonella incidence is occurring in their facility and apply control measures to reduce that incidence. This could include use of antimicrobial treatments and other control measures. If data is collected over time, processors could document continuous improvement in these areas where prevalence occurs the most. This proactive approach shows a documented commitment to food safety that could be recognized by FSIS and your customers.

Creating this data mapping process is a key part of telling your own food safety story to FSIS and to your customers. This provides a documented, systems approach to consistently producing a safe product, and a verifiable commitment to continuous improvement.

Analytics are useful to determine areas of the plant where Salmonella incidence is occurring. Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production technical service team members have the expertise to help you analyze data and determine best pathways for resolving Salmonella issues. To find and talk to your ARM & HAMMER™ representative, visit our contact page.

Get additional insights from the rest of our Combating Salmonella series:

Use data to validate and verify your food safety story.
Prevalence vs. Enumeration: What is best for you?



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