Association of Campylobacter spp. Levels between Chicken Grow-Out Environmental Samples and Processed Carcasses

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Virginia Tech

Campylobacter spp. have been isolated from live poultry, production environment, processing facility, and raw poultry products. The detection of Campylobacter using both quantitative and qualitative techniques would provide a more accurate assessment of pre- or post harvest contamination. Environmental sampling in a poultry grow-out house, combined with carcass rinse sampling from the same flock may provide a relative assessment of Campylobacter contamination and transmission.

Air samples, fecal/litter samples, and feed pan/drink line samples were collected from four commercial chicken grow-out houses. Birds from the sampled house were the first flock slaughtered the following day, and were sampled by post-chill carcass rinses. Quantitative (direct plating) and qualitative (direct plating after enrichment step) detection methods were used to determine Campylobacter contamination in each environmental sample and carcass rinse. Campylobacter, from post-enrichment samples, was detected from 27% (32/120) of house environmental samples and 37.5% (45/120) of carcass rinse samples. All sample types from each house included at least one positive sample except the house 2 air samples. Samples from house 1 and associated carcass rinses accounted for the highest total of Campylobacter positives (29/60). The fewest number of Campylobacter positives, based on both house environmental (4/30) and carcass rinse samples (8/30) were detected from flock B. Environmental sampling techniques provide a non-invasive and efficient way to test for foodborne pathogens. Correlating qualitative or quantitative Campylobacter levels from house and plant samples may enable the scheduled processing of flocks with lower pathogen incidence or concentrations, as a way to reduce post-slaughter pathogen transmission.

Campylobacter, environmental sampling, single flock, poultry