Submitted to: Southern Poultry Science Society Meeting Abstracts
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: October 21, 2003
Publication Date: January 26, 2004
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Dickens, J.A. 2004. The effects of soiled surfaces within feather picking machines on campylobacter contamination of broiler carcasses. [abstract] Southern Poultry Science Society Meeting Abstracts. Paper No. 14. Technical Abstract: Numbers of Campylobacter detected on broiler carcasses go down due to scalding but rebound during defeathering. Hypotheses for this include: leakage of contaminated feces from the gut during defeathering, aerosols produced during defeathering and contact with contaminated surfaces within feather picking machines. Earlier work indicated that escape of gut contents during defeathering can contribute to the increase in Campylobacter numbers while aerosols created by feather picking machines do not. Our objective was to determine if contact with the surfaces of a naturally contaminated commercial feather picker affects the counts of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses. Twenty chilled carcasses with low numbers of Campylobacter were collected, aseptically bagged and carried to the scald-pick area of the same plant. Additionally, 10 carcasses were collected immediately pre-pick and another 10 immediately post-pick and individually bagged. After the feather picking machines had been soiled by approximately 20,000 carcasses, plant personnel went on break leaving an empty shackle line and the pickers running. With no feathered carcasses present, 10 of the 20 chilled carcasses were hung on shackles and allowed to proceed through the soiled feather pickers. Whole carcass rinses were conducted and rinses were cultured for Campylobacter. The entire process was replicated five times for a total of 200 carcasses, 50 per treatment. Scalded feathered carcasses had an average of log 2.1 cfu Campylobacter per ml rinse, numbers increased to log 4.0 cfu per ml due to picking. A smaller increase was noted for chilled carcasses exposed to the picking machines. Chilled carcasses had an average of log 1.9 cfu Campylobacter per ml carcass rinse; after passing through the pickers log 2.4 cfu Campylobacter were detected per ml. These data indicate that naturally contaminated surfaces of feather picking machines may be partially responsible for the reported increases in Campylobacter numbers during defeathering.