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Research Project: Monitoring and Molecular Characterization of Antimicrobial Resistance in Foodborne Bacteria

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Title: Water rinse and flowing steam to kill Campylobacter on broiler transport coop flooring

item Berrang, Mark
item Meinersmann, Richard - Rick
item Cox Jr, Nelson
item Adams, Eric

Submitted to: Food Control
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/29/2020
Publication Date: 3/2/2020
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Meinersmann, R.J., Cox Jr, N.A., Adams, E.S. 2020. Water rinse and flowing steam to kill Campylobacter on broiler transport coop flooring. Food Control.

Interpretive Summary: Live haul cages are used to transport broilers from the farm to a processing facility. These cages are large and expensive; therefore, companies have a limited supply and use the same cages over and over. Campylobacter, a leading human foodborne pathogen, can be readily detected in the feces of broilers from a Campylobacter positive flock. We have previously reported that feces left in a cage by Campylobacter positive broilers can result in the next broilers placed in the same cage to also become contaminated. We have found that water spray and sanitizing of broiler transport cages is logistically complicated, physically difficult, water intense and largely ineffective to eliminate Campylobacter. In the current work, we tested steam as a means to decontaminate transport cage flooring. Naturally contaminated gut contents were used to purposely soil transport cage flooring. Soiled flooring was treated by 15 s of flowing steam with and without a preceding water spray. The steam treatment resulted in an approximately 99% reduction in the number of Campylobacter. When the steam treatment was preceded by a 15 second water spray at 10 psi, the Campylobacter reduction was improved to 99.99% compared to untreated controls. While Campylobacter was not eliminated, steam shows potential as an effective method to sanitize broiler transport cages; this may control transfer to previously negative broilers, lessen contamination of fully processed poultry meat products and reduce consumer exposure to Campylobacter.

Technical Abstract: Broilers can carry Campylobacter in their intestine during live haul transport to the slaughter plant; feces from positive birds will contaminate the floor surface of transport containers. Such contamination can be transferred to previously negative broilers when transported in unwashed cages. We tested the use of a water rinse and 15 s steam heat to lessen the numbers of coliforms, E. coli and Campylobacter in broiler intestinal contents spread on 5x5 cm squares of broiler transport cage flooring. Floor squares were covered with 1 g of fresh broiler intestinal contents and subjected to either no treatment, 15 s water rinse, 15 s steam heat or a combination of water rinse followed by steam treatment. All squares were sampled by a sponge wipe method; sponges were used to prepare serial dilutions, which were plated for numbers of coliforms, E. coli and Campylobacter. Four replications were conducted with four samples of each treatment (n=16). Spray washing alone was ineffective to lessen the numbers of bacteria detected on floor squares. Steam treatment resulted in a significant (P<0.05) reduction of approximately 2 log CFU per floor square. Water rinse followed by steam heat was significantly more effective than steam alone (P<0.05) lowering the numbers of all bacteria cultured by approximately 4 log CFU per floor square representing a 99.99% reduction. Although bacterial contamination was not eliminated by the two-step rinse and steam method it does show potential as an approach to lessen Campylobacter contamination in broiler transport containers.