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The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has announced a new action plan that aims to reduce the number of foodborne outbreaks caused by Salmonella in meat and poultry.

The Salmonella Action Plan
is intended to deal with the disease in an aggressive and comprehensive way and will help to make meat and poultry safer for American consumers, according to Under Secretary for Food Safety Elisabeth Hagen. Salmonella affects about 1.3 million people in the United States every year.

One of the key steps in reducing Salmonella rates is an urgent modernization of the outdated inspection system for poultry slaughter. The FSIS believes that just improving inspections in that stage of the process will prevent up to 5,000 illnesses per year.

Another measure of critical importance listed in the action plan is updating and expanding Salmonella testing and sampling procedures. The plan states that the latest scientific evidence should be taken into account when designing new testing systems. Inspectors will be equipped with innovative methods for detecting contamination before the actual spread of the disease, while improved tools for in-plant assessment that also take into account plant safety history will be utilized to prevent outbreaks.

The action plan also includes measures like setting new performance standards, looking into all potential sources of Salmonella and putting these under control, as well as raising public awareness of the bacteria and outbreak prevention.