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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit » Research » Research Project #439051

Research Project: Production and Processing Intervention Strategies for Poultry Associated Foodborne Pathogens

Location: Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit

2021 Annual Report

1. Develop reliable and reproducible challenge models with Salmonella and Campylobacter for use in accurately developing, evaluating, and validating processes for reducing pathogen load using various chemical sanitizers. 2. Develop, evaluate, and validate current and novel chemicals, operational protocols, and sampling methodologies used during poultry production and processing of broilers for the reduction and/or control of foodborne pathogens. 2.1. Assess the ability of commercial and novel chemical sanitizers to reduce or eliminate Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Pseudomonas species from inoculated broiler carcasses and parts. 2.2. Examine the effectiveness of chemical sanitizers applied to carcasses before defeathering or before chilling to reduce contamination by Salmonella and Campylobacter carcasses in postchill carcasses. 2.3. Formulate novel microbicidal surfactants from mixtures of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and organic acids (OA) to be used as sanitizers to significantly reduce microbial contamination during poultry processing. 3. Identify and evaluate risk factors in the production, management, transportation, or processing that impact bird/egg contamination with foodborne pathogens and develop intervention strategies to control pathogens in the absence of antibiotics. 3.1. Assess the ability of chemical sanitizers to reduce contamination of inoculated, fertile eggs by Salmonella. 3.2. Identify and evaluate risk factors in the production, management, transportation, or processing that impact broiler contamination with foodborne pathogens and develop intervention strategies to control pathogens in the absence of antibiotics. 4. Determine the extrinsic factors that impact the survival and attachment of microorganisms including evaluating media and growth factors. Develop and validate new improved technologies to isolate and propagate foodborne pathogens. 4.1. Evaluate media and growth factors and use the findings to develop new, improved technologies for the isolation and propagation of Campylobacter. 4.2. Assess accuracy of current laboratory methods in recovering Salmonella from poultry, animal feeds, and dry environmental samples with fermentable substrates available and development of a more efficient pre-enrichment media.

Poultry products contaminated by Salmonella and Campylobacter continue to be major sources of human foodborne illnesses. Live poultry are sporadically colonized by these pathogens, and the birds may serve as reservoirs for the bacteria without displaying any signs of illness or declines in performance. Cross contamination of carcasses during processing may spread the bacteria to poultry meat which may cause foodborne infections if the meat is not properly handled. Therefore, the primary goal of our research will be to develop novel interventions that may be used by commercial poultry producers and processors to reduce contamination of poultry by Salmonella, Campylobacter, and indicator microorganisms. Novel chemical sanitizers that may be used during processing to reduce carcass contamination by foodborne pathogens will be formulated or identified. Factors that enhance survival of these pathogens will be identified and used to formulate a novel bacteriological medium that will be utilized in research projects to determine the efficacy of currently available and newly developed interventions. The project outcomes will result in additional control measures that will reduce the levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter in broiler flocks and reduce contamination of processed carcasses by these pathogens. These outcomes will enable the poultry industry to achieve Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) performance standard goals and to reduce the number of cases of human foodborne illness associated with contaminated poultry products. Research goals will be achieved by utilizing an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates knowledge and skills of the scientists and other scientists who possess skills and resources required to successfully complete this project.

Progress Report
This is a bridging project for project 6040-32000-069-000D pending completion of research review. ARS researchers have made significant finding on methods to reduce contamination of poultry by foodborne pathogens. Research developed a consistent, effective method for inoculating broiler carcasses with Salmonella and/or Campylobacter to facilitate research aimed at eliminating or reducing bacterial contamination of broiler carcasses. Researchers also tested the ability of Salmonella strains to grow in various substrates to allow either spray or immersion inoculation of feathered and/or defeathered carcasses. Additionally, researchers found that using a water rinse, a steam treatment, or a combination of water rinse followed by steam treatment could be used to reduce contamination of broiler transport flooring by harmful bacteria that could cause human foodborne illnesses. Results showed that water rinse followed by steam heat was more effective than other treatments in lowering the numbers of bacteria on the flooring material. Researchers also determined that removal of Salmonella and Campylobacter from broiler carcasses may be improved by the application of chemical interventions using high pressure, low flow, fluidic nozzles. In addition, a novel medium was developed that can be used to grow Campylobacter cultures in primary containers incubated aerobically. The medium can be supplemented with selected antibiotics that allow growth of Campylobacter while inhibiting the growth of other bacteria. Furthermore, researchers sampled broilers on commercial farms and found that previous intestinal sampling results fail to predict Salmonella negative flocks following feed withdrawal. The researchers also examined the ability of the antibacterial activity of alkaline salts of medium chained fatty acids to reduce populations of bacteria associated with processed poultry in vitro and in vivo. In vitro and in vivo studies showed that the alkaline salts of fatty acids may provide another alternative intervention to reduce bacterial contamination of processed poultry meat. Progress on this project have produced new findings that may reduce colonization and contamination of poultry by human foodborne pathogens.


Review Publications
Ramirez, G., Richardson, E., Clark, J., Kishri, J., Dreschler, Y., Berrang, M.E., Meinersmann, R.J., Cox Jr, N.A., Oakley, B. 2020. Broiler chickens and early life programming: Microbiome transplant-induced cecal community dynamics and phenotypic effects. PLoS ONE. 15(11). Article e0242108.
Boyal, R.S., Buhr, R.J., Harris, C.E., Jacobs, L., Bourassa, D.V. 2020. Equipment and methods for poultry euthanasia by a single operator. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 29(4):1020-1032.
Rasamsetti, S., Berrang, M.E., Cox Jr, N.A., Shariat, N. 2021. Selective pre-enrichment method to lessen time needed to recover Salmonella from commercial poultry processing samples. Food Microbiology. 99:e103818.
Tolorico, A.A., Bailey, M.A., Munoz, L.R., Chasteen, K.S., Pal, A., Krehling, J.T., Bourassa, D.V., Buhr, R.J., Macklin, K.S. 2021. The use of roller swabs for salmonella detection in poultry litter. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 30(3):100163-100169.