Presence and Level of Campylobacter, Coliforms, Escherichia coli, and Total Aerobic Bacteria Recovered from Broiler Parts with and without Skin

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This study was undertaken to determine if broiler chicken parts without skin are less contaminated with Campylobacter than those with skin. Samples were taken in a commercial plant from defeathered carcasses before evisceration. Bacterial counts from rinse of aseptically removed meat samples were lower than those from stomached skin samples. No Campylobacter were recovered from meat collected from the breasts or thighs, and only 2 of 10 drumstick meat samples had detectable levels of Campylobacter. However, 9 of 10 breast skin, 10 of 10 thigh skin, and 8 of 10 drumstick skin samples were positive for Campylobacter, with between 2 and 3 log10 CFU/g of Campylobacter. Breasts, thighs, and drumsticks were removed from broiler carcasses following evisceration before entering the chill tank. There was a significant difference (50 to 90%) in the levels of Campylobacter on breasts, thighs, and drumsticks with and without skin. Similar trends were noted for coliform, Escherichia coli, and total aerobic bacterial counts from samples collected in the plant. Broiler part samples were also collected at retail outlets. These samples were either skin on and skinned in the laboratory or skin off at purchase. Aseptic removal of skin from broiler breasts, thighs, and drumsticks did not cause change in Campylobacter, coliform, E. coli, or total aerobic counts recovered from the skinned part. Likewise, parts purchased without skin did not have different bacterial counts than paired parts purchased with the skin on. Consumers should not expect to significantly lower the number of bacteria present on a chicken breast, thigh, or drumstick by removing the skin.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Poultry Processing and Meat Quality, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, P.O. Box 5677, Athens, Georgia 30604-5677, USA 2: Antimicrobial Resistance Research Units, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, P.O. Box 5677, Athens, Georgia 30604-5677, USA

Publication date: February 1, 2001

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