Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MICROBIAL ECOLOGY OF HUMAN PATHOGENS RELATIVE TO POULTRY PROCESSING

Location: Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance

Title: Prevalence and Numbers of Campylobacter on Broiler Carcasses Collected at Rehang and Postchill in 20 US Processing Plants

Authors
item Berrang, Mark
item Bailey, Joseph
item Alterkruse, Sean - USDA-FSIS
item Patel, Bharat - USDA-FSIS
item Shaw, William - USDA-FSIS
item Meinersmann, Richard
item Cray, Paula

Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 26, 2007
Publication Date: July 1, 2007
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Bailey, J.S., Alterkruse, S., Patel, B., Shaw, W., Meinersmann, R.J., Cray, P.J. 2007. Prevalence and Numbers of Campylobacter on Broiler Carcasses Collected at Rehang and Postchill in 20 US Processing Plants. Journal of Food Protection. 70(7):1556-1560.

Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is a human food borne pathogen that is commonly associated with poultry. A current and accurate assessment of the prevalence and numbers of this organism on broiler carcasses in commercial processing plants throughout the US is lacking in the literature. Carcasses from the beginning and the end of the processing line in twenty US commercial broiler processing plants were examined for presence and numbers of Campylobacter. Each plant was sampled 4 times through the year 2005. A total of 800 carcasses from early in processing (re-hang) and another 800 from late in processing (post chill) were cultured for Campylobacter. Overall, an average of about 455 cells were found per ml of carcass rinse at re-hang and an average of about 5 cells were found per ml of post chill carcass rinse. Seven different types of chemical wash steps were used in the various plants; regardless of chemical used, carcasses from all plants had less than 10 cells per ml rinse at the end of processing. Chorine added to the chill tank was effective to lower the numbers of Campylobacter found on post chill carcass rinses. Modern commercial broiler processing in the US is very effective to lower the numbers of Campylobacter found on carcasses.

Technical Abstract: Campylobacter is commonly reported as a human pathogen associated with chicken and chicken meat products. This study was designed to examine the prevalence and numbers of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses in commercial processing plants in the US. Carcasses from twenty plants across the US were sampled; each plant was sampled 4 times roughly approximating the four seasons of 2005. Carcasses from the same flock were collected at re-hang (prior to evisceration) and post-chill. In all, 800 carcasses were collected from re-hang and another 800 post-chill. All carcasses were subjected to a whole carcass rinse and rinse diluent was cultured for Campylobacter. The overall mean number of Campylobacter detected on carcasses at rehang was 2.66 log cfu/ml carcass rinse. In each plant the numbers were significantly reduced by broiler processing; the mean number after chill was 0.43 log cfu/ml rinse. Seven different chemical means of online reprocessing were being applied in the test plants. All reprocessing techniques resulted in the numbers after chill being less than 1 log cfu/ml rinse. Use of a chlorinated carcass wash before evisceration did not affect the post chill counts of Campylobacter. However, use of chlorine in the chill tank was related to lower numbers on post chill carcasses. Overall, US commercial poultry processors significantly lower the prevalence and numbers of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses.

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
Footer Content Back to Top of Page