Newswise — RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — Despite financial stress caused by the weakened economy, chicken establishments appear to be maintaining food safety procedures necessary to control Salmonella contamination, according to a new study conducted by researchers at RTI International and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The study, published in the March 2012 issue of the Journal of Food Protection, examined the association between financial performance and FSIS's Salmonella test results in 182 federally inspected chicken establishments between 2007 and 2009.

Food processing establishments incur expenses to implement and maintain food safety practices and, during difficult financial times, may be inclined to limit operating costs by reducing these investments. For example, the authors cite that in the trucking industry cost-cutting measures led to higher accident rates. The study found, however, that financial performance measures were not directly associated with FSIS's Salmonella test results that verify process control in establishments that slaughter young chickens except in the few cases where firms were in bankruptcy.

"Our study found that even those establishments under financial stress were implementing food safety practices sufficient to control Salmonella contamination, which may address some concerns about the effects of the economy on safety measures in food production," said Mary K. Muth, Ph.D., director of RTI's Food and Nutrition Policy Research Program, and the study's lead author.

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Journal of Food Protection