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Title: Detection of Campylobacter on the outer surface of retail broiler meat packages and from the exudate within

item Berrang, Mark
item OAKLEY, BRIAN - Former ARS Employee
item Meinersmann, Richard - Rick

Submitted to: International Poultry Scientific Forum
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/15/2014
Publication Date: 1/26/2015
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Oakley, B.B., Meinersmann, R.J. 2015. Detection of Campylobacter on the outer surface of retail broiler meat packages and from the exudate within. International Poultry Scientific Forum. January 26-27, 2015. Atlanta, Georgia. P.14.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Previous work has suggested that outer surfaces of retail broiler meat packaging may be contaminated with Campylobacter presenting a potential hazard to the consumer through direct transfer or by cross contamination of other products or surfaces. The objectives of this study were to measure the prevalence of Campylobacter detected on the outside of retail broiler meat packages and compare that to the prevalence detected on exudate from inside those same packages. Chicken meat products were purchased at retail, one package individually bagged per store per sample day. Effort was made to exclude packages that showed obvious signs of leaking or exposure to other leaky packages. Samples included: whole carcasses, wings, drum-sticks, bone-in thighs, boneless-skinless thighs and bone-in breast halves. Ten packages of each type of product were purchased (N=60). The exterior surface of each package was sampled by pre-moistened sponge, the package was sanitized, opened and exudate was collected from within the package. Sponge diluent and exudate were direct plated and enriched for the presence of Campylobacter spp. Overall, 27 of 60 packages (45%) had detectable numbers of Campylobacter in the exudate within. This included some of each type of product. Despite efforts to avoid leaking packages, upon arrival at the lab and further examination three packages were found to be leaking small amounts of exudate. Overall, 1 of 60 packages had detectable numbers of Campylobacter on the outer surfaces. This package was one of the three characterized as leaky. Campylobacter isolates from inside and outside of the positive package were characterized using multi-locus sequence typing and found to be indistinguishable. Although a substantial percentage of retail broiler meat packages may have Campylobacter on the inside, the outer surface of intact, non-leaky packages can be reasonably expected to be free of Campylobacter.