Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 5/20/2003
Publication Date: 10/1/2003
Citation: Buhr, R.J., Berrang, M.E., Cason Jr, J.A. 2003. Bacteria recovery from breast skin of genetically feathered and featherless broiler carcasses immediately following scalding and picking. Poultry Science. 82(10):1614-1647. Interpretive Summary: Sibling broilers that genetically are featherless or have feathers were processed to determine the influence that the presence of empty feather follicles had on the recovery of bacteria from breast skin. Empty feather follicles occur in the skin after feathers has been plucked and have been assumed to be a place in the skin were bacteria are harbored during processing. To test this theory, after slaughter, the vents (anal opening) on broiler carcasses were either sutured closed or left open. Broilers were processed in batches of four and the defeathering machine was cleaned between each batch with hot water. After scalding and defeathering the breast skin was removed and the level of bacteria enumerated. Consistently more bacteria were recovered from breast skin of carcasses which had open vents than for those which were closed. There were minimal differences in the levels of bacteria recovered from feathered and featherless carcasses. These results indicate that empty feather follicles do not play a major role in the level of bacteria recovered from defeathered broiler breast skin.
Technical Abstract: Genetically feathered and featherless sibling broilers selected for matched body weights were killed, scalded and defeathered to determine the consequences of feathers and empty feather follicles on the recovery of bacteria from carcass breast skin. In Trial 1, the vents of all carcasses were plugged and sutured before scalding to prevent the expulsion of cloacal contents during picking. In Trial 2, half the carcasses had their vents plugged and sutured. Immediately after defeathering, breast skin was aseptically removed and bacteria associated with it were enumerated. In Trial 1, the levels of bacteria recovered did not differ between feathered and featherless carcasses: Campylobacter log10 1.4 cfu / mL of rinse, coliform log10 1.8, E. coli log10 1.6, and total aerobic bacteria log10 3.1. In Trial 2, the carcasses that had their vents plugged and sutured had lower levels of all four types of bacteria (differences of Campylobacter log10 0.7 cfu / mL, coliform log10 1.8, E. coli log10 1.7, and total aerobic bacteria log10 0.5) than those carcasses that had open vents. The lower levels of bacteria recovered from carcasses with the vents plugged and sutured during picking enabled detection of small but significant differences between feathered and featherless carcasses. The level of coliform and E. coli recovered was slightly higher by log10 0.7 cfu for feathered carcasses, but featherless carcasses had marginally higher levels of total aerobic bacteria by log10 0.4 cfu. Feathered and featherless carcasses with open vents during picking did not differ in the levels of recovery of coliform, E. coli, and total aerobic bacteria from breast skin.