The prevalence of salmonella in raw meat and poultry has dropped across the board due to implementation of the Pathogen Reduction/Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) program, according to USDA.

The science-based inspection program, begun in 1998, requires packing plants to develop a plan to prevent hazards and reduce pathogens in meat products.

In combined data for all sizes of plants from 1998-2001, salmonella prevalence in market hogs went from 8.7% before HACCP to 5.4% with HACCP. Broilers improved from 20% to 10.7% and cows and bulls went from 2.7% to 2.2%. Ground meat and poultry products recorded double-digit reductions in salmonella prevalence.

Those large reductions correlated with reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that human illnesses due to salmonella declined during that same time period, say USDA officials.

For the full report, log on to www.fsis.usda.gov.