Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/29/2003
Publication Date: 2/20/2004
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Smith, D.P., Windham, W.R., Feldner, P.W. 2004. Effect of intestinal content contamination on broiler carcass Campylobacter counts. Journal of Food Protection. 67(2):235-238.
Interpretive Summary: Broilers which are positive for the bacteria Campylobacter will have high numbers of this human pathogen in their feces. Feces or gut contents can contaminate broiler carcasses during processing. When detected, this type of contamination must be washed off. This study was undertaken to determine how gut content contamination impacts bacterial populations detected on broiler carcasses. To reduce the number of carcasses needed and to increase statistical sensitivity of the test, carcasses were cut in half and one side compared to the other. Carcass halves were purposely contaminated with various amounts of gut contents; bacteria were enumerated and compared to the numbers detected on the uncontaminated halves of the same carcasses. Addition of as little as 5 mg of gut contents caused a significant increase in the numbers of Campylobacter detected. Two milligrams of gut contents added to a broiler carcass half did not cause a measurable increase in the numbers of bacteria. This information is useful to poultry processors and regulators as they work to improve the microbial quality of processed broilers.
Technical Abstract: Intestinal contents may contaminate broiler carcasses during processing. The objective of this study was to determine what effect various levels of intestinal contents had on the numbers of Campylobacter detected in broiler carcass rinse samples. Eviscerated broiler carcasses were collected from the shackle line in a commercial processing plant immediately after passing through an inside/outside washer. Broiler carcasses were cut longitudinally into contra-lateral halves using a sanitized saw. Cecal contents from the same flock were collected, pooled, homogenized and used to contaminate carcass halves. Paired carcass halves were divided into groups of eight each, and then cecal contents (2, 5, 10, 50 or 100 mg) were placed onto one randomly selected half of each carcass, while the corresponding half of the same broiler carcass received no cecal contents. Campylobacter counts from carcass halves with cecal contamination were compared to the uncontaminated halves of the same carcasses using a paired T test. Carcass halves with 5 mg or more of surface cecal contamination had significantly more Campylobacter than those without (P < 0.01). Carcass halves contaminated with only 5 mg of cecal contents had an average of log 3.3 CFU Campylobacter per ml of rinse while corresponding uncontaminated carcass halves had log 2.6 CFU Campylobacter per ml rinse. These data indicate that even small (5 mg) amounts of cecal contents can cause a significant increase in the numbers of Campylobacter on eviscerated broiler carcasses. Therefore, it is important to keep such contamination to a minimum during processing.