The USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is considering new Salmonella performance standards focused on raw pork products, due to concerns about recent Salmonella outbreaks linked to these products. The concerns were raised in a study, “Temporal Changes in the Proportion of Salmonella Outbreaks Associated with Twelve Broad Commodity Classes in the United States,” published by the FSIS in Epidemiology & Infection.
The study examined changes in the proportion of foodborne Salmonella outbreaks attributed to 12 commodity groups between 1998 and 2017. Amongst the 12 commodity groups, only pork demonstrated a significant increasing trend—between 1998 and 2017, the estimated proportion of Salmonella outbreaks attributable to pork increased from 4% to 18%—while the proportion of outbreaks for other commodity groups remained essentially unchanged or constant during the 20-year study period.
“Amongst meat and poultry commodities, the consistent and significant increase in the proportion of pork-associated outbreaks is of concern,” noted authors Michael S. Williams and Eric D. Ebel. “Pork ranks as the third most frequently consumed meat commodity in the United States, yet only the chicken and the fruits–nuts commodities are responsible for a larger average proportion of outbreaks in the later years of the dataset. This suggests that the risk of illness per serving from pork may have increased and is high relative to the other meat and poultry commodities.”
The USDA FSIS will be using the results of this study, in addition to public comments on the proposed performance standards for Salmonella on pork products, to inform the development of new policies targeted to reduce Salmonella illnesses attributable to pork.