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J Food Prot. 2003 Sep;66(9):1550-6.

Prevalence of Campylobacter within a swine slaughter and processing facility.

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  • 1Microbial Food Safety Research Unit, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, Eastern Regional Research Center, Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania 19038, USA.


In this work, the occurrence of Campylobacter in a swine slaughter and processing facility was studied. Thirty composite carcass samples, representing 360 swine carcasses, were taken immediately after exsanguination, immediately after polishing, after the final wash, and after overnight chilling at 2 degrees C. Thirty matching composite rectal samples were also taken immediately after exsanguination, and 60 nonmatching individual colon samples were collected from the same lot of swine during evisceration. Also, 72 environmental samples were collected from equipment used in the slaughter operation (42 samples) and the processing operation (30 samples). Campylobacter was isolated by direct plating on Campy-Line agar (CLA) or Campy-Cefex agar (CCA), as well as by Bolton broth enrichment and subsequent inoculation onto CLA or CCA. For all four recovery methods combined, Campylobacter was detected on 33% (10 of 30) of the composite carcasses immediately after exsanguination, 0% (0 of 30) after polishing, 7% (2 of 30) immediately before chilling, and 0% (0 of 30) after overnight chilling. The pathogen was recovered from 100% (30 of 30) of the composite rectal samples and 80% (48 of 60) of the individual colon samples. Campylobacter was detected in 4.8% (2 of 42) and 3.3% (1 of 30) of the slaughter and processing equipment samples, respectively. The recovery rate achieved with direct plating on CLA was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than those achieved with the other three recovery methods. For the 202 isolates recovered from all of the various samples tested, Campylobacter coli was the predominant species (75%) and was followed by Campylobacter spp. (24%) and Campylobacter jejuni (1%). These results indicate that although Campylobacter is highly prevalent in the intestinal tracts of swine arriving at the slaughter facility, this microorganism does not progress through the slaughtering operation and is not detectable on carcasses after overnight chilling.

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