Study Show Best Times for Campylobacter Controls

CANADA - A research group from Guelph and the US has reviewed the published literature on the changing prevalence of Campylobacter in the poultry processing plant, identifying the critical control points to minimise the risk of foodborne disease to the consumer.
calendar icon 19 April 2010
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M.T. Guerin of the University of Guelph and co-authors from the US have published a paper on the changing prevalence of Campylobacter on chicken carcasses during processing. Their paper is published in Poultry Science.

The authors explain that a systematic review was conducted to evaluate the change in prevalence of Campylobacter on chicken carcasses during processing. A structured literature search of eight electronic databases using the key words for 'Campylobacter', 'chicken' and 'processing' identified 1,734 unique citations. Abstracts were screened for relevance by two independent reviewers. Thirty-two studies described prevalence at more than one stage during processing and were included in this review.

Of the studies that described the prevalence of Campylobacter on carcasses before and after specific stages of processing, the chilling stage had the greatest number of studies (9), followed by washing (6), defeathering (4), scalding (2) and evisceration (1).

Studies that sampled before and after scalding or chilling, or both, showed that the prevalence of Campylobacter generally decreased immediately after the stage (scalding: 20.0 to 40.0 per cent decrease; chilling: 100.0 per cent decrease to 26.6 per cent increase).

The prevalence of Campylobacter increased after defeathering (10.0 to 72.0 per cent) and evisceration (15.0 per cent).

The prevalence after washing was inconsistent between studies (23.0 per cent decrease to 13.3 per cent increase). Eleven studies reported the concentration of Campylobacter, as well as, or instead of, the prevalence.

Studies that sampled before and after specific stages of processing showed that the concentration of Campylobacter decreased after scalding (minimum decrease of 1.3 cfu/g, maximum decrease of 2.9 cfu/mL), evisceration (0.3 cfu/g), washing (minimum 0.3 cfu/mL, maximum 1.1 cfu/mL), and chilling (minimum 0.2 cfu/g, maximum 1.7 cfu/carcass) and increased after defeathering (minimum 0.4 cfu/g, maximum 2.9 cfu/mL).

Available evidence is sparse and suggests more data are needed to understand the magnitude and mechanism by which the prevalence and concentration of Campylobacter changes during processing.

M.T. Guerin and co-authors conclude that this understanding should help researchers and programme developers identify the most likely points in processing to implement effective control efforts. For example, if contamination will occur during defeathering and likely during evisceration, critical control points post-evisceration are likely to have a greater effect on the end-product going to the consumer.


Guerin M.T., C. Sir, J.M. Sargeant, L. Waddell, A.M. O'Connor, R.W. Wills, R.H. Bailey and J.A. Byrd. 2010. The change in prevalence of Campylobacter on chicken carcasses during processing: A systematic review. Poultry Science, 89: 1070-1084.

Further Reading

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