Higher Food Safety Risk in Market Chickens

US - In a recent survey of raw, whole chicken carcasses from farmers' markets in Pennsylvania, 90 and 28 per cent were contaminated with Campylobacter and Salmonella, respectively.
calendar icon 12 June 2013
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Sampling of chickens from farmers' markets has revealed a high incidence of Salmonella and particularly Campylobacter, which prompted the researchers to call for better food safety training for these vendors. These rates were markedly higher than for other organic or standard non-organic chickens.

The popularity of farmers' markets continues to rise in the US, according to Joshua Scheinberg and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University. Raw poultry products sold at farmers' markets are of particular concern due to the USDA inspection exemption status afforded to many poultry vendors.

In their paper in Journal of Food Safety, the researchers explain that they evaluated whole chicken from farmers' markets and supermarkets in Pennsylvania for the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. and Salmonella spp.

They found that 28 per cent (28/100) and 90 per cent (90/100) of chicken from farmers' markets, 20 per cent (10/50) and 28 per cent (14/50) of conventionally processed organic, and 8.0 per cent (4/50) and 52 per cent (26/50) of non-organic chicken, were positive for Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp., respectively.

Additionally, among the 90 per cent of Campylobacter spp.-positive farmers' market poultry, 67 per cent of rinses were enumerable, with a mean count of 1.6 log10 colony-forming units per millilitre.

Scheinberg and colleagues say their study demonstrates the need to develop food safety training for poultry vendors at farmers' markets in order to improve the safety of these products for public consumption.

They add that the information may also be useful to local and state regulatory officials responsible for food safety.


Scheinberg, J., Doores, S. and Cutter, C.N. 2013, A microbiological comparison of poultry products obtained from farmers' markets and supermarkets in Pennsylvania. Journal of Food Safety. doi: 10.1111/jfs.12047

Further Reading

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