Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/8/2005
Publication Date: 8/10/2005
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Northcutt, J.K. 2005. Use of water spray and extended drying time to lower bacterial numbers on soiled flooring from broiler transport coops. Poultry Science. 84(11):1797-1801.
Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is an important human pathogen that is carried in the gut of many broiler chickens during grow-out. Broiler chickens are trucked live from the farm to the processing plant in transport coops. During transport the birds continue to defecate, and the feces can contain Campylobacter; thus transport coops become contaminated with Campylobacter. Efforts to wash and sanitize coops require a large amount of water, are expensive and are not always effective. Therefore, coops are rarely cleaned and when broilers from other farms are placed in contaminated coops they too can become contaminated with Campylobacter causing a food safety concern. We tested extended drying time to determine if this practice would lower the numbers of Campylobacter on transport coop flooring. Results show that allowing contaminated transport coop flooring to dry for 24 or 48 hours is effective in lowering the number of Campylobacter cells on the floor surface. Furthermore, the numbers of Campylobacter do not increase when coop flooring with dried gut contents is exposed to moisture at a later time. This information will help poultry processors design and implement strategies to avoid Campylobacter cross contamination in transport coops thereby lowering the exposure of uncontaminated chickens to this pathogen. This will provide the industry with a better opportunity to keep Campylobacter free broilers free of Campylobacter during transport and processing.
Technical Abstract: Broiler transport coops soiled with Campylobacter positive feces have been shown to facilitate cross contamination of broilers. Washing and sanitizing coop surfaces does not always effectively eliminate bacteria. The objective of this study was to examine drying as a means of lowering bacterial numbers on transport coop flooring. Small squares (5 X 5 cm) of fiberglass flooring from transport coops were intentionally contaminated with 1 g of Campylobacter positive broiler gut contents. Soiled floor squares were sprayed with water and allowed to dry for 15 min, 24 h or 48 h. Un-sprayed squares were examined at each time period as controls. All squares were sampled by cotton tipped applicators which were cultured for Campylobacter, coliforms and E. coli. Sampling un-sprayed squares at 15 min yielded 7.3 log cfu Campylobacter, 6.2 log cfu coliform and 5.9 log cfu E. coli per floor square. Water spray alone resulted in a significantly lower number of organisms recovered: 4.1 log cfu Campylobacter, 3.6 log cfu coliform and 3.2 log cfu E. coli per floor square. When water spray was followed by a 24 hour drying period, no Campylobacter, coliforms or E. coli were detected on the floor surface. However, allowing un-sprayed soiled flooring to simply dry for 24 or 48 hours also resulted in no recovery of Campylobacter and very low numbers of coliforms and E. coli. A 24 or 48 hour drying period for fecal matter on broiler transport cage flooring may be a viable method to lower bacterial numbers on these surfaces.