Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: February 3, 2011
Publication Date: June 1, 2011
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Smith, D., Meinersmann, R.J. 2011. Variations on standard broiler processing in an effort to reduce Campylobacter numbers on postpick carcasses. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 20(2):197-202. Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is commonly found on chicken and is a human pathogen. The amount of Campylobacter detected on breast skin of broiler carcasses increase during automated feather removal at slaughter. This increase is due to leakage of contaminated feces from the anus of carcasses while they are in the feather picking machine. We tested several modifications to standard processing in an attempt to interfere with this contamination. In each case, the amount of Campylobacter on breast skin of experimental carcasses was compared to the amount detected on breast skin of carcasses processed in the standard fashion. Plugging the anus with commercially available canned spray foam prior to feather picking was not effective because the foam did not consistently form adequate plugs. Hanging broiler carcasses with the anus pointing downward (standard orientation is with the anus pointing up) was not effective either as the amount of Campylobacter contamination still increased during feather removal. Removing the viscera prior to feather picking was effective at stopping the increase in Campylobacter during automated feather picking. Evisceration prior to feather picking was especially effective when it was done prior to hot water scalding as the scald water, which is meant to loosen feathers, killed and washed away Campylobacter inadvertently spilled on the carcass during gut removal. More research is needed to determine the commercial utility of changing the order of broiler processing to control bacterial contamination.
Technical Abstract: Campylobacter numbers increase on broiler carcasses during defeathering due to leakage of gut contents through the vent. We tested several processing modifications designed to interfere with the transfer of Campylobacter from gut contents to carcass surface. Numbers of Campylobacter detected on breast skin of carcasses treated with each modification was compared to control broilers processed using a standard method. Filling the vent and colon with commercially available canned spray foam did not consistently form an effective plug and Campylobacter numbers increased during picking. Likewise, hanging carcasses with the vent pointed downward during defeathering was not effective to prevent the increase in Campylobacter numbers. Eviscerating carcasses by hand immediately prior to defeathering eliminated the increase in Campylobacter during automated feather picking. However, inadvertent contamination during hand evisceration lead to higher numbers prior to feather removal. Therefore, we tested hand evisceration prior to scald, allowing the scald water to kill and wash away Campylobacter spilled on the carcass during evisceration. Pre-scald evisceration was effective to significantly lessen the increase in Campylobacter on broiler carcasses during automated defeathering. Changing the order of standard broiler processing may help to control contamination with Campylobacter.