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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Are Free Range Chickens Microbiologically Safer

Authors
item Bailey, Joseph
item Cosby, Douglas

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: July 15, 2004
Publication Date: September 6, 2004
Citation: Bailey, J.S., Cosby, D.E. 2004. Are free range chickens microbiologically safer. Bilateral US - Canada Meeting on Monitoring Antimicrobial Use and Antimicrobial Resistance. September 6, 2004. Aylmer, Quebec, Canada.

Technical Abstract: Many consumers assume that broiler chickens grown under traditional commercial conditions will be microbiologically inferior and have more Salmonella than free-range chickens which are usually less crowded and have access to outside spaces during grow-out. However, there is not much published information about the microbiological status of free-range chickens. The object of this study was to determine the prevalence of Salmonella on commercially grown free-range chickens. A total of 110 processed free-range chickens from 3 different commercial free-range chicken producers were sampled in lots of 10 per each of 11 replications for the presence of Salmonella. Carcasses were shipped by overnight freight on ice to our laboratory and traditional USDA cultural methods were used to sample for the presence of Salmonella. Overall, 6 of 11 (55%) lots and 27 of 110 (24.5%) of the carcasses were positive for Salmonella. No Salmonella were detected from 5 of the 11 lots and in one lot 100% all of the chickens were positive for Salmonella. Overall, the free-range chickens tested in this study had slightly higher levels of Salmonella than the 11% found in recent FSIS HACCP samples. The trends seen were very similar to those found in commercial integrated operations where a big variation from grower to grower and from lot to lot was observed. Consumers should not assume that just because chickens are grown under free-range conditions that they will have less Salmonella or other bacterial pathogens.

Last Modified: 4/24/2014
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