Submitted to: International Journal of Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 8/6/2004
Publication Date: 8/13/2004
Citation: Hinton Jr, A., Cason Jr, J.A., Hume, M.E., Ingram, K.D. 2004. Spread of campylobacter spp. during poultry processing in different seasons. International Journal of Poultry Science. 3(7):432-437.
Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is a bacterium that has been associated with foodborne diseases in people who have eaten contaminated chicken meat. In this study, the presence of Campylobacter bacteria on chicken carcasses moving through a commercial poultry processing plant was studied. Samples were collected from the plant from July through December. The number of Campylobacter was determined in water tanks where the chickens were scalded, on carcasses that had undergone various phases of processing, and on carcasses that had been stored in a refrigerator for 7 or 14 days. Campylobacter recovered from the processing plant samples were identified using an automated bacteria identification system. Findings indicated that Campylobacter bacteria were present on carcasses and in scald tank water samples collected each month. Most processing operations decreased the number of Campylobacter recovered from broiler carcasses, however. Also, fewer Campylobacter were consistently recovered from the last tank than from the first tank the multiple tank scald system in the plant. This study proved that chicken flocks may introduce several types of Campylobacter into processing plants. Processing reduces the number of Campylobacter on the chickens, but further research must be conducted to find methods to eliminate Campylobacter contamination of processed poultry.
Technical Abstract: The presence of Campylobacter spp. on broiler carcasses and in scald tank water in a commercial poultry processing facility was monitored at monthly intervals from July through December. The spread of the pathogen had previously been monitored in the same facility from January through June of the same year. Campylobacter were enumerated on prescalded, picked, eviscerated, and chilled broiler carcasses; on processed carcasses stored at 4C for 7 or 14 days, and in scald tank water samples. The fatty acid methyl ester (FAME) profile of the Campylobacter isolates and the degree of relatedness between the Campylobacter isolates was determined using the MIDI Sherlock Microbial Identification System (MIS). Findings indicated that Campylobacter jejuni was present on carcasses and in scald tank water samples collected from July through December. Processing significantly decreased the number of Campylobacter recovered from broiler carcasses, however. Furthermore, significantly fewer C. jejuni were consistently recovered from the third tank of the multiple tank scald system than from the first tank. Findings indicated that poultry flocks may introduce several strains of C. jejuni into processing facilities. Additionally, different populations of the pathogen may be carried into the processing plant by successive broiler flocks, and some strains of C. jejuni may reappear in the same processing facility during different times of the year.