Adoption of interventions to improve food safety at meat and poultry processing plants in the United States
To learn how meat and poultry processors promote food safety, we conducted a nationally representative mail survey of processing plants (944 completed surveys, 66% response rate). Plants employ a variety of sanitation and other food safety practices to control Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria and other pathogens. Most plants sanitize hand tools during operations (89%) and treat drains with sanitizers for pathogen control (84%). About 64% of plants have purchase specifications to control pathogens in raw meat and poultry. However, less than one-third of plants apply antimicrobial chemicals. Seventy-one percent of plants conduct voluntary microbiological testing, and 70% conduct environmental sampling. Analysis by HACCP size suggests that large and small plants are more likely than very small plants to use many types of food safety practices and technologies (P < 0.01). Furthermore, plants that produce ready-to-eat products or inputs to further processing are more likely than plants with no such production to use some types of food safety practices and technologies. The findings can be used to establish a baseline of current industry practices, to conduct analyses of plant practices that might contribute to risk-based inspection initiatives, and to conduct required economic analyzes of proposed regulations.