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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Presence and Level of Campylobacter on Broiler Carcasses Throughout the Processing Plant

Authors
item Berrang, Mark
item Dickens, James

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 10, 1999
Publication Date: N/A

Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is a human pathogen that has been found in and on live chickens. It has also been found on processed chicken and chicken products. It is important to know how modern processing procedures affect Campylobacter populations in order to design appropriate intervention strategies. Campylobacter populations were measured on chicken carcasses after six major processing steps in a commercial broiler plant. Campylobacter was present at high levels when the birds entered the plant (Log10 4.71 cells per ml carcass rinse). The first major processing step, the scald tank significantly lowered the levels (Log10 1.8). However, feather removal caused a significant increase (Log10 3.7). As the carcasses moved through the rest of the processing plant the levels of Campylobacter declined at each step: removal of the viscera Log10 3.4, final washer Log10 2.3, chill tank Log10 1.5. This information will help plant managers design HACCP programs and focus researchers on processing steps where potential interventions may be applied.

Technical Abstract: In order to create an effective HACCP program, it is important to know the effect of processing steps on microbial populations, including Campylobacter. Broiler carcasses were removed from the line in a commercial processing plant at six different sites. Care was taken to follow the same flock through the plant on each visit to eliminate the possibility of a flock effect masking any processing effect measured. On six different days, 5 birds were examined from each site for a total of 30 birds per site (6 flocks). Sampling sites included: A) pre-scald, B) post scald / pre-pick, C) post pick, D) post evisceration (immediately following removal of the viscera), E) pre-chill / post final washer, and F) post chill. All carcasses were sampled by whole carcass rinse and examined for total aerobic bacterial populations, coliform and generic E. coli populations and Campylobacter populations. Results are reported as mean Log 10 colony forming units (CFU) per ml of rinse fluid recovered. Total aerobic bacterial populations found were: site A: 6.8, site B: 5.0, site C: 5.0 site D: 4.5, site E: 3.6, site F: 2.9. Coliform / E. coli counts at these sites were: site A: 5.0 / 4.3, site B: 2.9 / 2.1, site C: 3.4 / 2.8 site D: 3.1 / 2.2, site E: 2.2 / 1.5, site F:1.9 / 1.1. Campylobacter populations at each site were: site A: 4.7, site B: 1.8, site C: 3.7 site D: 3.4, site E: 2.3, site F:1.5. Overall bacterial populations decreased due to processing. However, coliforms, E. coli and Campylobacter counts which were all depressed by scalding, increased after the birds moved through the picker.

Last Modified: 10/21/2014
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