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Partitioning of External and Internal Bacteria Carried by Broiler Chickens before Processing

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Abstract:

Broiler chickens from the loading dock of a commercial processing plant were sampled to determine the incidence and counts of coliforms, Escherichia coli, and pathogenic bacteria. Feathers were removed by hand from ten 6-week-old chickens from each of seven different flocks and rinsed in 400 ml of 0.1% peptone water. Heads and feet were removed and rinsed, and the picked carcass was also rinsed, each in 200 ml. The ceca, colon, and crop were aseptically removed and stomached separately in 100 ml of peptone water. Campylobacter was present in six of the seven flocks. Salmonella was isolated from 50 of the 70 carcasses, with at least 2 positive carcasses in each flock, and five-tube most-probable-number (MPN) assays were performed on positive samples. Significantly (P < 0.05) more coliforms and E. coli were found in the ceca than in the feathers, which in turn carried more than the other samples, but total external and internal counts were roughly equivalent. Counts of Campylobacter were higher in the ceca and colon than in the other samples. Salmonella was isolated in external samples from 46 of the 50 positive carcasses compared with 26 positive internal samples or 17 positives in the ceca alone. The total MPN of Salmonella was approximately equivalent in all samples, indicating that contamination was distributed through all external and internal sampling locations. Salmonella-positive samples did not carry higher counts of coliforms or E. coli, and there were no significant correlations between the indicators and pathogens in any sample. Campylobacter numbers in the ceca were correlated with Campylobacter numbers in the feathers and colon, but Salmonella numbers in those samples were not correlated. The pattern of bacterial contamination before processing is complex and highly variable.

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Russell Research Center, P.O. Box 5677, Athens, Georgia 30604-5677, USA

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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