Microscopic fluorescent green Campylobacter cells
on chicken skin. Click the image for more information about it.
Finding the Source of Campylobacter
May 23, 2005
Reducing the pathogenic bacterium
Campylobacter on poultry farms and in processing plants begins with
finding its sources, one of which is the birds' lungs, Agricultural Research
Service (ARS) scientists report.
Meinersmann and animal physiologist
J. Buhr at the ARS
B. Russell Agricultural Research Center in Athens, Ga., studied
Campylobacter before and after chicken carcasses were scalded to remove
feathers, an integral step in poultry processing.
Bacteria can contaminate live chickens during production or transport, or
carcasses during scalding. In either case, Campylobacter would
contaminate respiratory air sacs and could then contaminate the abdominal
In a commercial processing plant, researchers collected 10 carcasses on each
of three days, before and after scalding. They rinsed the entire carcasses and
respiratory tracts and took samples for Campylobacter, E. coli and other
bacteria. The results showed the same type of Campylobacter were in the
carcass and respiratory tract samples.
Also, the number and type of Campylobacter in the respiratory tracts
remained the same before and after scalding. This suggests the respiratory
tract is an important source of Campylobacter contamination in the
interior of the carcass before scalding. According to Berrang and colleagues,
the airborne bacteria could be inhaled by the live birds during production or
transport, meaning significant levels of the bacteria were already in their
respiratory tracts before processing.
ARS is the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's chief scientific research agency.