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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Bacterial Epidemiology & Antimicrobial Resistance Research » Research » Research Project #420977

Research Project: Microbial Ecology of Human Pathogens Relative to Poultry Processing

Location: Bacterial Epidemiology & Antimicrobial Resistance Research

Project Number: 6040-41420-004-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Apr 25, 2011
End Date: Mar 29, 2016

1. Using population genetics, track bacterial migration and adaptation of foodborne pathogens through poultry processing and the associated environment. Evaluate the variations and influence of genetic and strain diversity from animal through the processing plant. Sub-Objective A: Enhance research on foodborne pathogens, through poultry processing evaluating the strain diversity from animal through the processing plant. 2. Examine the role of protozoa and other potential biological populations in the microbial ecology of foodborne pathogens through poultry processing. 3. Evaluate the potential for protozoa and other biological controls to be used as intervention or mitigation strategies for human pathogens in poultry processing and processing facilities. 4. Based on objectives 1-3, develop and evaluate physical and chemical intervention strategies to reduce contamination by foodborne pathogens of poultry products.

The focus of this research would be called the “transmission phase” by epidemiologists or the “migration phase” by ecologists. Processing of poultry products creates many severe barriers to transmission such that most of the pathogens are lost. However, it is clear that the barriers are incomplete and enough pathogens survive and pass to human consumers to cause foodborne disease. It is reasonable to assume that bacteria have adaptive strategies that improve the chances that some clones will survive processing making transmission to humans possible. The objectives of this project are designed to determine the relative ability of genetically different clones of foodborne pathogens to survive barriers that are encountered in the poultry processing plant. This will be followed by studying specific biological barriers that are common to ecosystems and are often responsible for limiting migration of bacteria. It is also likely that protozoa will be found in the processing environment that are not only ineffective in killing pathogens but may even be protective. Therefore, we plan to study the mechanisms of destruction or protection as they are uncovered. The knowledge that is gained from these studies will be used to design enhanced barriers in an attempt to improve the microbiological benefits of poultry processing. Sub-objective 1.A augments objective 1 which will provide important knowledge to design intervention strategies to improve poultry processing.