Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/16/2004
Publication Date: 8/1/2004
Citation: Hinton Jr, A., Cason Jr, J.A., Hume, M.E., Ingram, K.D. 2004. Use of midi-fatty acid methyl ester analysis to monitor the transmission of campylobacter during commercial poultry processing. Journal of Food Protection. 67(8):1610-1616.
Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter bacteria are the main cause of human foodborne diseases. Therefore, an experiment was conducted to check for the presence of Campylobacter on chicken carcasses and in scald water taken from a chicken processing plant. Samples were collected from the plant from January through June, and the numbers of Campylobacter in scald water and on chickens taken from various processing steps was determined. The ability of the bacterium to survive on processed carcasses refrigerated for 7 or 14 days was also examined. A computerized, automated system was used to identify bacteria isolated from the samples. Results showed that no Campylobacter were recovered from samples collected in January or February, but the pathogen was recovered from samples collected in March, April, May, and June. Processing generally reduced the number of Campylobacter carried on the chickens, and the number of Campylobacter on the chickens generally decreased during refrigeration. Two different types of Campylobacter were recovered from the samples. Studies showed that poultry may carry different kinds of Campylobacter into processing plants and that the bacteria may be recovered from different processing operations. Campylobacter apparently is unable to survive in the processing facility between processing days however; therefore, the same group of bacteria is not able to contaminate broilers processed at later dates in the same plant.
Technical Abstract: The presence of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses and in scald water taken from a commercial poultry processing facility was monitored from January through June. Campylobacter were enumerated in water samples from a multi-tank scalder; on prescalded, picked, eviscerated, and chilled carcasses; and on processed carcasses stored at 4oC for 7 or 14 days. The MIDI Sherlock Microbial Identification System (MIS) was used to identify Campylobacter-like isolates based on the fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profile of the bacteria. The dendrogram program of the Sherlock MIS was used to compare the FAME profiles of the bacteria and determine the degree of relatedness between the isolates. Findings indicated that no Campylobacter were recovered from samples collected in January or February, but the pathogen was recovered from samples collected in March, April, May, and June. Processing generally produced significant decreases in the number of Campylobacter recovered from carcasses, and the number of Campylobacter recovered from refrigerated carcasses generally decreased during storage. Significantly fewer Campylobacter were recovered from the final tank of the multiple tank scald system than from the first tank. MIDI Similarity Index values ranged from 0.104 to 0.928 based on MID-FAME analysis of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli isolates. Dendrograms of the FAME profile of the isolates indicated that poultry flocks may carry several strains of C. jejuni and C. coli into processing plants. The same Campylobacter strain may be recovered from different poultry processing operations; however, Campylobacter apparently is unable to colonize the processing facility and contaminate broilers processed at later dates.