Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania » Eastern Regional Research Center » Microbial and Chemical Food Safety » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #372269

Title: Salmonella Prevalence Alone Is Not a Good Indicator of Poultry Food Safety

item Oscar, Thomas

Submitted to: Risk Analysis
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/2/2020
Publication Date: 7/2/2020
Citation: Oscar, T.P. 2020. Salmonella Prevalence Alone Is Not a Good Indicator of Poultry Food Safety. Risk Analysis. 1-21.

Interpretive Summary: Salmonella are a leading cause of foodborne illness outbreaks that on occasion are attributed to poultry meat. One way to improve food safety is to use a more comprehensive approach that better identifies unsafe lots of food before they are shipped to consumers. Development of models that predict food safety as a function of multiple risk factors can be used to accomplish this. Consequently, a model that predicts safety of individual lots of ground turkey as a function of Salmonella prevalence and other risk factors (Salmonella number and pathogenicity, undercooking, food consumption behavior, and host resistance) was developed and demonstrated in the current study. The model holds great promise for improving public health by allowing the poultry industry to better identify unsafe food before it is shipped to consumers.

Technical Abstract: Salmonella is a leading cause of foodborne illness (i.e. salmonellosis) outbreaks, which on occasion are attributed to ground turkey. The poultry industry uses Salmonella prevalence as an indicator of food safety. However, Salmonella prevalence is only one of several factors that determine risk of salmonellosis. A better approach to food safety may be to use models that predict risk of salmonellosis as a function of Salmonella prevalence and other risk factors. Consequently, a model for predicting risk of salmonellosis from ground turkey as a function of Salmonella prevalence and other risk factors was developed. Data for Salmonella contamination (prevalence, number, and serotype) of ground turkey were collected at meal preparation. The data were used to develop a model that predicted risk of salmonellosis from individual lots of ground turkey. Scenario analysis was used to evaluate effects of model variables on risk of salmonellosis. Epidemiological data were used to simulate Salmonella serotype virulence in a dose-response model that was based on human outbreak and feeding trial data. Salmonella prevalence was 26% (n = 100) per 25 g of ground turkey, whereas Salmonella number ranged from 0 to 1.603 with a median of 0.185 log per 25 g. Risk of salmonellosis was affected (P < 0.05) by Salmonella prevalence, number, and virulence, and by incidence and extent of undercooking, and by food consumption behavior and host resistance but not (P > 0.05) by serving size, serving size distribution, or total bacterial load of ground turkey. Thus, Salmonella prevalence was not a good indicator of food safety because other factors were found to alter risk of salmonellosis. A more holistic approach to food safety, such as the model developed in the present study, is needed to better protect public health from foodborne pathogens like Salmonella.