Distribution and Prevalence of Airborne Microorganisms in Three Commercial Poultry Processing Plants

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Airborne microbial contaminants and indicator organisms were monitored within three poultry processing plants (plants A, B, and C). In total, 15 cubic feet (c.f.) of air was sampled per location during 15 visits to each plant and quantitatively analyzed for total mesophilic and psychrophilic aerobic counts, thermophilic campylobacters, Escherichia coli, and Enterobacteriaceae. The prevalence of Salmonella spp. in air samples was also evaluated. Significant reductions in total aerobic counts were observed between defeathering and evisceration areas of the three plants (P < 0.05). Mesophilic plate counts were highest in the defeathering areas of all plants compared to equivalent psychrophilic plate counts. Enterobacteriaceae counts were highest in the defeathering areas of all three plants with counts of log10 1.63, 1.53, and 1.18 CFU/15 c.f. recovered in plants A, B, and C, respectively. E. coli enumerated from air samples in the defeathering areas exhibited a similar trend to those obtained for Enterobacteriaceae with log10 1.67, 1.58, and 1.18 CFU for plants A, B, and C, respectively. Thermophilic campylobacters were most frequently isolated from samples in the defeathering areas followed by the evisceration areas. The highest mean counts of the organism were observed in plant A at 21 CFU/15 c.f. sample with plants B and C at 9 and 8 CFU/sample, respectively. With the exception of low levels of Enterobacteriaceae recovered from samples in the on-line air chill in plant A, E. coli, Enterobacteriaceae, or Campylobacter spp. were not isolated from samples in postevisceration sites in any of the plants examined. Salmonella spp. were not recovered from any samples during the course of the investigation.


Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Food Hygiene Laboratory, Department of Large Animal Clinical Studies, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University College Dublin, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, Ireland

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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