Both Organic, Conventional Processing Reduce Campylobacter on Carcasses

US - Both conventional and organic processing methods reduced Campylobacter on broiler carcasses in a recent study by Purdue University.
calendar icon 5 May 2017
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In addition, there was a drastic reduction in Campylobacter populations between the initial processing and post-chill steps, a finding that underscores the important role processing interventions play in producing a safer product, Matthew Bailey, a grad student at the university, said at the 2017 International Poultry Scientific Forum.1

Foodborne infection caused by Campylobacter is one of the top causes of foodborne illnesses, he said. In 2011 alone, there were 800,000 reported cases of Campylobacter among humans in the US, and most were associated with poultry.

That fact, coupled with increased demand for organic poultry, initiated the study comparing the effects of conventional and organic methods of processing and their impact on presumptive Campylobacter populations in a commercial setting.

Sampling procedures

For the study, Bailey and colleagues collected samples eight times throughout the year from a commercial broiler facility during conventional processing and eight times from the same facility when it was processing organic birds. They spread out sampling days throughout a 1-year period.

On each visit, they took fecal grab samples from incoming birds as well as samples from carcass rinses, then determined the presumptive Campylobacter population by plate-count method using Campy-Cefex agar, a medium used specifically to isolate Campylobacter.

Carcasses from conventionally raised birds were treated with a cetylpyridinium chloride rinse, a standard industry practice, while the organically raised birds were washed in peracetic acid. Both the conventional and organic broilers went through water- and air-chilling steps, Bailey explained.

Incoming Campy-Cefex populations were higher (p < 0.05) on conventional processing days (3.7 log10CFU/mL) than on organic processing days (2.8 log10CFU/mL). Samples from conventionally processed birds also had higher Campylobacter counts in the feces, at post-feather-picking and post-evisceration compared to samples from organic birds. The reasons for these higher counts might be attributed to longer holding times of the birds before processing. In addition, cross contamination might have occurred during earlier stages of processing, he said.

There was no difference (p > 0.05) in Campylobacter populations between processing methods after chill, with both methods reducing populations dramatically — to less than 0.4 log10CFU/ mL, Bailey reported.

1 Bailey M. et al. Assessment of Campylobacter populations in broiler carcasses from a facility using organic and conventional processing methods. 2017 International Poultry Scientific Forum. Atlanta, Georgia.

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