Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: July 22, 2003
Publication Date: December 20, 2003
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Meinersmann, R.J., Buhr, R.J., Reimer, N.A., Phillips, R.W., Harrison, M.A. 2003. Presence of campylobacter in the respiratory tract of broiler carcasses before and after commercial scalding. Poultry Science. 82(12):1995-1999. Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is a foodborne pathogen that causes large numbers of food poisoning cases in the U. S. Campylobacter can be detected in the body cavity of broiler carcasses even if they are carefully eviscerated by hand with no evidence of intestinal leakage. This study was done to determine if some Campylobacter in the body cavity of eviscerated broilers could be due to contamination of the respiratory tract, specifically air sacs. Air sacs are respiratory organs found in birds which are large, relative to lung volume. These delicate sacs can be torn during evisceration and therefore any contamination in the air sacs could result in contamination of the body cavity of eviscerated carcases. A novel technique for examination of the respiratory tract for presence of bacteria was developed and used to look for the presence of Campylobacter and other bacteria in carcasses collected before and after scalding in a processing plant. Scalding is the part of processing that involves immersing the carcasses in hot agitated water to help in the removal of feathers. Campylobacter was detected in the respiratory tract of broilers prior to scald , suggesting that this contamination occurred while the bird was still alive. The prevalence, numbers and subtype of Campylobacter detected was not different on carcasses sampled before scald and after scald. These data show that even with perfect evisceration, Campylobacter can be present in the body cavity of broiler carcasses and highlight the continued need to control airborne Campylobacter during poultry production and transport to the processing facility.
Technical Abstract: Campylobacter can be detected in the thoraco-abdominal cavity of broiler carcasses even if they were carefully eviscerated by hand with no evidence of intestinal rupture or leakage. If Campylobacter is present in the air sacs, which are unavoidably torn during evisceration, it could contaminate the thoraco-abdominal cavity of the eviscerated carcass. This study was done to determine if Campylobacter contamination is present in the respiratory tract of broilers prior to evisceration. Whole carcass rinses and respiratory tract washes were done on broiler carcasses collected at a commercial processing plant just before and just after scalding. Samples were cultured for presence and numbers of Campylobacter, E. coli, coliforms and total aerobic bacteria. Campylobacter isolates were subtyped by sequencing the short variable region of the flaA gene. The same subtypes of Campylobacter were detected in whole carcass rinse samples as in respiratory tract wash samples from individual broilers. Furthermore, the same numbers and subtypes of Campylobacter were recovered from respiratory tracts of carcasses collected before scalding and those collected after scalding. However, respiratory tracts of carcasses after scalding had higher numbers of E. coli, coliforms and total aerobic bacteria than those tested before scalding. Although some bacterial counts were higher in the respiratory tracts of carcasses after scalding, Campylobacter counts were not. It appears that Campylobacter is present in the airways of broilers as they enter processing and may be due to airborne contamination during production and transport.