Submitted to: Poultry Science
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 10/24/2005
Publication Date: 3/1/2006
Citation: Manfreda, G., Decesare, A., Bondioli, V., Stern, N.J., Franchini, A. 2006. Enumeration and identity of campylobacter spp. in italian broilers. Poultry Science. (85):556-562. Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter spp. are pathogenic bacteria associated with broilers. The levels of contamination are an important risk factor potentiating human disease. Levels of contamination among individual flocks, both in the United States and in Italy, vary with the individual flock. We determined the levels of carcass contamination among 22 Italian flocks over the course of a year and determined that on average, these were contaminated with more than 100,000 cells of Campylobacter per carcass. Contamination levels were higher when the flocks were transported more than 100 km from the farm to the processing plant. Data was provided to indicate that consecutive flocks do not contribute to subsequent flock contamination. These data begin the process of evaluating levels of the organism so that when interventions are applied progress can be measured.
Technical Abstract: Transmission of Campylobacter to humans has been prominently associated with mishandling or improperly preparing contaminated poultry carcasses. The number of the organism per carcass represents an important measure of human exposure to the agent. Therefore, we wished to estimate this public exposure over one year among Italian broiler carcasses. We sampled 213 broiler carcasses from rinse-water samples collected from a single slaughterhouse. Groups of carcasses had mean processed weights ranging from 1.2 to 2.7 kg. These were produced from 22 commercial broiler chicken flocks collected from 12 different farms, three of which were seasonally tested. Carcasses were rinsed with sterile water and the rinse suspension was then serially diluted and spread plated directly onto Campy-Cefex agar plates. One to five typical Campylobacter colonies per plate were identified by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) as Campylobacter thermo-tolerant species. The overall estimated mean count per carcass in our study was 5.16 ± 0.80 Log10 CFU. This value increased in summer and autumn, as well as on carcasses collected from farms located more than 100 km far from the slaughterhouse. A total of 678 Campylobacter colonies were identified by PCR. The majority of isolates were classified as Campylobacter jejuni (49.2%) or Campylobacter coli (47.5%). The overall number of Campylobacter jejuni was significantly higher on (1) carcasses weighing more than 3 kg, (2) belonging to flocks with more than 10,000 birds, and 3) collected from farms located further than 100 km from the slaughterhouse. Moreover, among farms tested seasonally, Campylobacter jejuni was significantly greater than Campylobacter coli in winter. The data collected provide the first results of a continuing survey on Campylobacter loads and species identification from Italian broiler carcasses. This represents an important baseline to estimate the human exposure to Campylobacter in Italy.