Enumeration of and on chicken packs
Transmission routes that may contribute to the overall picture of campylobacteriosis and salmonellosis were explored by analysing the outside surfaces of 300 retail raw chicken packs for prevalence and enumeration of Campylobacter using a MPN/PCR assay and Salmonella using a MPN/visual immunoassay procedure. The surfaces of 72 packs (24.0 per cent) were externally contaminated with C. jejuni; 32 with counts of <6?MPN/pack and the remaining 40 with counts ranging from 6 to >2,200?MPN/pack. One whole chicken sample (0.3 per cent) was contaminated with S. Tennessee at <6?MPN/pack. The surfaces of offal packs were most contaminated with Campylobacter, with 18 per cent having a count of =100?MPN/pack in comparison with chicken portion packs (4/200, 2 per cent) and whole bird packs (1/50, 2 per cent). These observations suggest that packs could be a source of cross-contamination, however, the contribution of this outer surface contamination pathway to foodborne illness can only be properly determined by development of a validated risk assessment model.