A real-time PCR assay was evaluated for the rapid detection (10 h) of Salmonella in meats using molecular beacon probes available as a commercial kit (iQ-Check, Bio-Rad laboratories). Raw (chicken, pork) and ready-to-eat (RTE) meats were artificially contaminated with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium at the estimated level of 2 to 4 cells per 25 g. After 8 h of pre-enrichment in buffered peptone water, a molecular beacon-based PCR assay was performed to detect contamination in raw and RTE meats. The sensitivity and accuracy of the assay were compared with the conventional USDA microbiological procedure. Comparative evaluation of the USDA procedure with the rapid PCR assay for meat samples (n = 63) revealed 1 false negative pork sample with the PCR assay. All uninoculated controls (n = 34) but one sample were negative by both the 10-h PCR assay and the USDA procedure. Developing rapid pathogen detection methods with shorter pre-enrichment times (8-h) and real-time data monitoring capabilities will benefit the industry in preventing recall of contaminated meats by stopping the contaminated products from being introduced into the marketplace.