Submitted to: Avian Diseases
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 30, 1998
Publication Date: N/A
Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter bacteria is the most common cause of foodborne illness in humans. It is important to determine how management procedures at the chicken farm affects carcass quality. Poultry companies commonly withdraw feed immediately prior to slaughter to reduce the feed in the digestive tract and overall bacterial contamination. Previously, the crop, an internal organ for feed storage, was identified as a major source of Salmonella bacteria contamination of chicken meat at the processing plant. Because the crop has been identified of as a resevoir of foodborne Salmonella, we evaluated the effect of feed withdrawal on the crop with regard to Campylobacter contamination. We found that the number of Campylobacter contaminated crops doubled after feed withdrawal. This finding is important to help develop new methods aimed at reducing Campylobacter contamination prior to slaughter and thereby reducing the public risk of food poisoning due to consumption of contaminated poultry products.
Technical Abstract: The presence of Campylobacter and Salmonella on poultry meat products remains a significant public health concern. Previous research has indicated that feed withdrawal may significantly increase Salmonella contamination of broiler crops, and that crop contents may serve as an important source of Salmonella carcass contamination at commercial processing. The present study evaluated the effect of preslaughter feed withdrawal on the incidence of Campylobacter isolation in crops of market- age commercial broiler chickens prior to capture and transport to the processing plant. The incidence of Campylobacter isolation from the crop was determined immediately before and after feed withdrawal in 40 seven- week-old broiler chickens obtained from each of 9 separate broiler houses. Ceca were collected from broilers in 6 of the same flocks for comparison with the crop samples. Feed withdrawal caused a significant (P<.025) increase in Campylobacter-positive crop samples in 7 of the 9 houses sampled. Furthermore, the total number of Campylobacter-positive crops increased significantly (P<.001) from 90/360 (25%) before feed removal to 224/359 (62.4%) after the feed withdrawal period. Alternatively, feed withdrawal did not significantly alter the Campylobacter isolation frequency from ceca. Similar to our previous studies with Salmonella, the present results suggest that pre-harvest feed withdrawal increases the frequency of Campylobacter crop contamination, and thus provides a source of Campylobacter contamination of carcasses at commercial processing.