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Prevalence and Numbers of Campylobacter on Broiler Carcasses Collected at Rehang and Postchill in 20 U.S. Processing Plants

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Campylobacter is a human pathogen associated with chicken and chicken meat products. This study was designed to examine the prevalence and number of Campylobacter on broiler chicken carcasses in commercial processing plants in the United States. Carcass samples were collected from each of 20 U.S. plants four times, roughly approximating the four seasons of 2005. At each plant on each sample day, 10 carcasses were collected at rehang (prior to evisceration), and 10 carcasses from the same flock were collected postchill. A total of 800 carcasses were collected at rehang and another 800 were collected postchill. All carcasses were subjected to a whole-carcass rinse, and the rinse diluent was cultured for Campylobacter. The overall mean number of Campylobacter detected on carcasses at rehang was 2.66 log CFU per ml of carcass rinse. In each plant, the Campylobacter numbers were significantly reduced by broiler processing; the mean concentration after chill was 0.43 log CFU/ml. Overall prevalence was also reduced by processing from a mean of ≥30 of 40 carcasses at rehang to ≥14 of 40 carcasses at postchill. Seven different on-line reprocessing techniques were applied in the test plants, and all techniques resulted in <1 log CFU/ml after chilling. Use of a chlorinated carcass wash before evisceration did not affect the postchill Campylobacter numbers. However, use of chlorine in the chill tank was related to lower numbers on postchill carcasses. Overall, U.S. commercial poultry slaughter operations are successful in significantly lowering the prevalence and number of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses during processing.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, Athens, Georgia 30605, USA 2: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service, Washington, D.C. 20250-3700, USA

Publication date: July 1, 2007

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