RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, NC – Chicken operations are holding the line against foodborne pathogens such as Salmonella despite financial pressures, according to a new study from RTI International and the US Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS).

The study focused on the correlation between financial performance and Salmonella test results in 182 federally inspected chicken operations between 2007 and 2009.

"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 Muth, Ph.D., director of RTI's Food and Nutrition Policy Research Program, and the study's lead author.

The researchers hypothesized that during tough economic times, food-processing businesses may be inclined to limit or cut costs by reducing expenses to implement and maintain food safety practices.

For example, the authors cited the trucking industry as an example of how cost-cutting measures led to higher accident rates. However, the chicken plant study found that financial performance measures were not directly associated with Salmonella test results that verify process control in establishments that slaughter young chickens except in the few cases where firms were in bankruptcy.