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Broiler Carcass Contamination with Campylobacter from Feces during Defeathering

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Abstract:

Three sets of experiments were conducted to explore the increase in recovery of Campylobacter from broiler carcasses after defeathering. In the first set of experiments, live broilers obtained from a commercial processor were transported to a pilot plant, and breast skin was sampled by a sponge wipe method before and after defeathering. One of 120 broiler breast skin samples was positive for Campylobacter before defeathering, and 95 of 120 were positive after defeathering. In the second set of experiments, Campylobacter-free flocks were identified, subjected to feed withdrawal, and transported to the pilot plant. Carcasses were intracloacally inoculated with Campylobacter (107 CFU) just prior to entering the scald tank. Breast skin sponge samples were negative for Campylobacter before carcasses entered the picker (0 of 120 samples). After defeathering, 69 of 120 samples were positive for Campylobacter, with an average of log10 2.7 CFU per sample (approximately 30 cm2). The third set of experiments was conducted using Campylobacter-positive broilers obtained at a commercial processing plant and transported live to the pilot plant. Just prior to scalding, the cloacae were plugged with tampons and sutured shut on half of the carcasses. Plugged carcasses were scalded, and breast skin samples taken before and after defeathering were compared with those collected from control broilers from the same flock. Prior to defeathering, 1 of 120 breast skin sponge samples were positive for the control carcasses, and 0 of 120 were positive for the plugged carcasses. After passing through the picker, 120 of 120 control carcasses had positive breast skin sponge samples, with an average of log10 4.2 CFU per sample (approximately 30 cm2). Only 13 of 120 plugged carcasses had detectable numbers of Campylobacter on the breast skin sponge, with an average of log10 2.5 CFU per sample. These data indicate that an increase in the recovery of Campylobacter after defeathering can be related to the escape of contaminated feces from the cloaca during defeathering.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: USDA-ARS–Poultry Processing and Meat Quality Research Unit, Russell Research Center, Athens, Georgia 30604-5677, USA

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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