Nationwide Hunt Starts For Chicken Microbes
By Jill Lee
November 3, 1997
Scientists are beginning a nationwide bacteria-hunt to learn where chicken
pathogens can get their start at the farm, so they can be stopped before
The year-long study will sample farms in each of the nations top
poultry-producing areas--Arkansas, California, Georgia, Mississippi and the
Delmarva peninsula of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.
The scientists, with USDAs
Agricultural Research Service, will
focus on 10 broiler production farms. On each farm, they will take samples from
25 places to find out which places are likely to transmit food pathogens. Feed
bins, hatcheries and even farmers boot soles will be sampled.
DNA tests will distinguish the bacteria present in each of the 25 sample
sites. The scientists will piece together this information to determine which
sites are top candidates for extra contamination control. Five top poultry
producers have invited the ARS scientists to comb their farms for this project,
the largest of its kind in the United States.
The survey could provide a national picture of where and possibly how
poultry contamination may begin. It could also supply poultry producers with a
new way to track and control bacterial risks.
Scientists at ARS Poultry
Microbiological Safety Research Unit in Athens, Ga., will coordinate a team
of microbiologists, technicians and computer experts at the ARS lab.
USDAs Food Safety and
Inspection Service is helping to fund the project.
Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria are two of the worst
poultry food-safety concerns. They can enter the food supply at any time--in
the farm hatchery or the consumers kitchens. Studies indicated
Salmonella may infect 25 percent of processed poultry carcasses;
Campylobacter may infect up to 90 percent. Proper cooking and handling is
the best protection.
Project leader microbiologist Norm Stern will discuss the project at a
National Broiler Council meeting in
Scientific contact: Norman Stern, USDA-ARS Poultry Microbiological
Safety Research Unit, Richard B. Russell Research Center, Athens, Ga. Phone
(706) 546-3516; fax (706) 546-3771, firstname.lastname@example.org