Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer reviewed journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/19/2006
Publication Date: 7/15/2006
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Smith, D.P., Hinton Jr, A. 2006. Organic acids placed into the cloaca to reduce campylobacter contamination of broiler skin during defeathering. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 15(2):287-291. Interpretive Summary: Campylobacter is a foodborne human pathogen that has been associated with poultry and poultry meat. Overall, the number of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses goes down during slaughter and processing. However, feather removal, an early step in broiler chicken processing, causes an increase in Campylobacter numbers that processors then have to work against. In an earlier study we demonstrated that this increase is primarily caused by escape of live Campylobacter from the cloaca due to the rubbing action of automated feather picking machines. This study tested placement of bactericidal food-grade organic acids in the cloaca of broiler carcasses as a means to lower the number of live Campylobacter that can escape during feather removal. Treated carcasses had significantly lower number of Campylobacter after feather removal than did untreated control carcasses. Carcasses treated with acetic acid, lactic acid or proprionic acid only had about 2% the number of Campylobacter on them as carcasses that were treated with water. Treatment of broiler carcasses with organic acids in the cloaca can lessen the increase in Campylobacter numbers on carcasses during feather removal. If an application is engineered into existing poultry processing parameters and this technique is adopted by the poultry industry, processors may be able to produce fully processed broiler carcasses with lower numbers of Campylobacter than is currently possible. This may translate into lower risk of campylobacteriosis for poultry consumers.
Technical Abstract: Campylobacter numbers on broiler carcasses can increase dramatically during defeathering due to leakage of contaminated gut contents in the feather picking machine. Food grade organic acids have been shown to be effective in killing bacteria. Placement of organic acids into the cloaca prior to defeathering was tested to determine if such a treatment could lower the number of Campylobacter that escape and contaminate broiler breast skin during automated feather removal. Twelve mL of one molar acetic acid, lactic acid or proprionic acid was placed into the cloaca of broiler carcasses before scald. Campylobacter numbers on breast skin was measured by sponge sampling after scald (before defeathering) and again after defeathering. Campylobacter numbers on the breast skin of treated carcasses increased from an average of log 0.39 to an average of log 2.28 due to feather picking. However, this increase was significantly less than that observed in water treated controls which went from log 0.53 to log 4.01. Placement of food grade bactericidal acids in the cloaca of broiler carcasses may be useful as a means to lessen the impact of automated defeathering on the microbiological quality of carcasses during processing.