Every year at the International Association of Food Protection there are fabulous presentations and this year in St. Louis was no exception. One in particular was by Frank Yiannis, Vice President of Food Safety for Walmart, in which he discussed the great leaps and bounds his company has been making in effort to reduce the levels of Salmonella in chicken parts sold at their stores. Salmonella accounts for 380 deaths and 19,000 illnesses each year with as many as 19% of salmonellosis cases linked to poultry products, so it is a significant public health concern. Although more stringent performance standards for Salmonella have recently been set by the USDA for poultry processors, raw poultry products are still considered high risk. This was not going to be a quick and easy fix. However, Walmart was determined to reduce this risk for its customers by implementing a set of food safety requirements via a four-part plan and working closely with suppliers to get it done. When this initiative was first launched, their prevalence was around 17%. But by January of this year, they were testing at 5% and then even lower in June at only 2%.
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