Slawomir Fajer/iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Official figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) show that in the second quarter of this year, the overall rates of prevalence of salmonella on raw chicken carcasses in the United States fell by 34 percent compared to rates from the first quarter of 2013, marking a 120 percent decline over the past five years.

The report was released by the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) and was based on testing information between April 1 and June 30, 2013. Over that period, a total of 2,955 samples of raw young chicken were collected and examined, revealing a salmonella rate of just 2.6 percent, which is a dramatic improvement on the average 7.5 percent recorded in previous years.

RELATED: FDA finds salmonella in imported spices

The FSIS also examined the same samples for campylobacter and found that the rates of contamination remained unchanged from the first quarter. Despite that, rates have dropped by nearly 50 percent since campylobacter testing was first introduced in 2011. Campylobacter remains, however, the key challenge for poultry processors in the United States, the report pointed out.

Dr. Ashley Peterson, of non-profit trade association the National Chicken Council, welcomed the figures and commented that the report from the FSIS proved that the industry was making progress in tackling salmonella and campylobacter on young chicken carcasses.