Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/24/2001
Publication Date: 1/2/2002
Citation: Interpretive Summary: Salmonella and Campylobacter are common bacteria that can cause illness and death to humans consuming food products. The numbers of Salmonella and Campylobacter have been shown to increase in chickens when the feed is removed before the chickens are transported to the processing plant. Previously, we found that the gut of chickens often contain Salmonella and Campylobacter bacteria that may spread to other chickens and to the machinery in the chicken processing plant. In the present study, we gave chickens a colored dye before entering a slaughter plant and examined each carcass for leakage. Results indicate that this dye technique may serve as a useful tool for training of employees, adjustment of existing slaughter equipment, and selection of new slaughter equipment. This may reduce the number of people getting sick from these bacteria.
Technical Abstract: Previous published research has identified the crop as a source of Salmonella and Campylobacter contamination for broiler carcasses and reported that broiler crops are 86 times more likely to rupture than ceca during commercial processing. Presently, we evaluated leakage of crop and upper gastrointestinal contents from broilers using a fluorescent marker at commercial processing plants. Broilers were orally gavaged with a fluorescent marker paste (corn meal-fluorescein dye-agar) within 30 min of live hang. Carcasses were collected at several points during processing and were examined for upper gastrointestinal leakage using long-wavelength black light. This survey indicated that 67% of the total broiler carcasses were positive for the marker at the re-hang station following head and shank removal. Crops were mechanically removed from 61% of the carcasses prior to the cropper and visual on-line examination indicated leakage of crop contents following crop removal by the pack puller. Examination of the carcasses prior to the cropper detected the marker in the following regions: neck (50.5% positive), thoracic inlet (69.7% positive), thoracic cavity (35.4% positive), and abdominal cavity (34.3% positive). Immediately prior to chill immersion, 53.2% of the carcasses contained some degree of visually identifiable marker contamination, as follows: neck (41.5% positive), thoracic inlet (45.2% positive), thoracic cavity (26.2% positive), and abdominal cavity (30.2% positive). Results indicate that this fluorescent marker technique may serve as a useful tool for identifying critical control points during processing where new technologies or changes in production procedures are needed in order to reduce pathogen contamination.