The University of Illinois (U of I), Cornell University, and Perdue Farms are partnering on a project to study policy and management approaches to further reduce Salmonella cases linked to raw poultry.

The research project, titled, "Simulation and Modelling to Rationally Target Salmonella Control Strategies in Processing Plants,” is led by Matthew Stasiewicz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Applied Food Safety in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition within the College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences at U of I. The project is fully funded by Perdue Farms through January 2024.

The collaborative effort aims to build risk assessment models that will allow Perdue and other poultry producers to optimize Salmonella control strategies in the supply chain by enhancing lotting and intervention tactics. Such strategies could then be applied by other poultry processors and may be considered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA’s FSIS) to support its efforts to reduce cases of human salmonellosis associated with the consumption of poultry meat. For example, in October 2022, FSIS proposed a new regulatory framework designed to reduce Salmonella infections attributable to poultry.

Perdue is already generating important data on Salmonella control strategies from improved live bird management through better harvesting and processing controls, which is data that would be difficult for academics to generate at scale under industry-relevant conditions. Perdue’s data will enable the application of modern analytics and the development of risk-assessment models to identify and prioritize the most effective new risk management strategies.

The project comes amid a push to model a Salmonella performance standard that is more focused on protecting public health than simply reducing prevalence. Since 2015, when the current performance standard for chicken parts went into effect, the industry has reduced Salmonella prevalence by 65 percent. Additionally, approximately 95 percent of large establishments meet the FSIS performance standard for Salmonella on chicken parts like wings, breasts, and drumsticks.

However, human cases of salmonellosis attributed to poultry have not declined at a rate that reflects the reduced rates of prevalence, likely because Salmonella strains most likely to cause human disease have not been specifically targeted. Therefore, there is a need to consider improved standards, and better ways to meet those standards, to continuously improve food safety.