Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 27, 2001
Publication Date: February 1, 2001
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Buhr, R.J., Cason Jr, J.A., Dickens, J.A. 2001. Microbiological consequences of skin removal prior to evisceration of broiler carcasses. Poultry Science. 81:134-138.
Interpretive Summary: Chicken skin can carry large numbers of bacteria including the important human pathogen Campylobacter. If processing could be altered such that the skin is removed, the numbers of bacteria proceeding through the processing plant and present on the ready to cook product might be lowered. This was tested by removal of skin prior to removal of the internal organs. The results show that by removing the skin the numbers of Campylobacter on the outside of broiler carcasses can be lowered dramatically. The numbers of other types of bacteria on the outer surface, including E. coli, are also decreased. However, numbers of bacteria on the inside of the carcass cavity are not affected by the removal of skin. Scientists and poultry processors can now test the early removal of skin to determine what technical hurdles are presented in terms of product quality and expense.
Four experiments were conducted, two with each type of sampling (rinse or sponge). New York dressed carcasses obtained from a commercial broiler processing plant were aseptically skinned or left with skin intact. The carcasses were then aseptically eviscerated by hand. Carcasses were either rinsed in 100 mL sterile water or sampled by moist sponge. When sampled by rinse, significantly fewer Campylobacter and total aerobic bacteria were recovered from carcasses that had been skinned prior to evisceration. When sampled by sponge, significantly fewer Campylobacter, E. coli, coliform and total aerobic bacteria were recovered from the outer surface of carcasses without skin. No differences were noted for bacterial counts recovered from internal surfaces by sponge sampling. Similar trends were observed when carcasses were subjected to an inside and outside wash step after evisceration. Removal of skin and washing the carcass led to significantly lower numbers of Campylobacter recovered by whole carcass rinse compared to carcasses which were washed with the skin on. When sampled by sponge, Campylobacter and total aerobic bacterial counts were lower on the outer surface of skinned and washed carcasses than on washed carcasses with intact skin. Like the un-washed carcasses, no differences were noted for bacterial counts recovered from internal surfaces by sponge sampling. Although not commercially practical, it is possible to lower the level of Campylobacter on the outside of broiler carcasses by removal of the skin prior to evisceration.