Submitted to: Journal of Food Protection
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/31/2006
Publication Date: 6/1/2007
Citation: Smith, D., Altekruse, S.F., Bailey, J.S. 2007. Assessment of post-Hurricane Katrina recovery in poultry slaughter establishments. Journal of Food Protection. 70(6):1498-1501.
Interpretive Summary: The Food Safety and Inspection Service was concerned that disruption of processing plant operations and delay of time to processing of birds caused by Hurricane Katrina might lead to inferior microbiological quality of processed chickens. In October 2005, disaster recovery was evaluated in 11 broiler slaughter establishments, one month after operations were disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. Generic E. coli and Salmonella analyses were performed on post-chill broilers and compared to historical FSIS and ARS data from these plants. This study provided empirical reassurance that the establishments had processes to control bacterial contamination.
Technical Abstract: Control of bacterial contamination during poultry slaughter can be compromised by natural disaster. In October 2005, disaster recovery was evaluated in 11 broiler slaughter establishments, one month after operations were disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. A questionnaire was administered to characterize the establishment’s operational disruption. Carcass rinses were collected at the early and late stage of the slaughter process (rehang and post-chill). Generic Escherichia coli counts were determined for all rinses. Salmonella culture and serotyping were performed on post-chill samples. Historical FSIS data on the presence of Salmonella were also examined. The mean duration of disruption was 6.3 days; (range 9-3). Loss of utilities (electricity, water) was the cause of prolonged recoveries. Most establishments (64%) did not exceed the generic E. coli performance criterion (> 100 CFU /ml “m” and > 1000 CFU/ml “M”) during the recovery period. The mean reduction in E. coli counts between rehang and post-chill was 2.3 logs (range 3.1-0.9). Rinse samples from five of eleven establishments tested positive for Salmonella spp. Of 12 Salmonella isolates that were recovered, eight were Salmonella serotype Kentucky. S. Heidelberg and S. Thompson were recovered from one establishment and two isolates of S. Typhimurium were isolated from another. This study provided empirical reassurance that the establishments had processes to control bacterial contamination. Data on reductions in E. coli counts during poultry slaughter may help establishments control microbial contamination.