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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Sep;74(17):5483-9. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00161-08. Epub 2008 Jul 11.

Baseline data from a Belgium-wide survey of Campylobacter species contamination in chicken meat preparations and considerations for a reliable monitoring program.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, B-9820 Merelbeke, Belgium. ihab.habib@ugent.be


From February to November 2007, chicken meat preparations (n = 656) were sampled at 11 processing companies across Belgium. All samples were tested for Campylobacter by enrichment culture and by direct plating according to standard methods. Almost half (48.02%) of the samples were positive for Campylobacter spp. The mean Campylobacter count was 1.68 log(10) CFU/g with a standard deviation of +/- 0.64 log(10) CFU/g. The study revealed a statistically significant variation in Campylobacter contamination levels between companies; processors with a wider frequency distribution range of Campylobacter counts provided chicken meat preparations with higher Campylobacter incidences and concentrations. There was no significant difference between the counts of Campylobacter spp. in various preparation types. However, the Campylobacter counts and incidences in chicken wings were the highest and portioned-form products (legs, wings, and breasts) showed a higher probability of being Campylobacter positive compared to minced-form products (sausages, burgers, and minced meat). The proportion of Campylobacter-positive samples was significantly higher in July than in other months. Recovery of Campylobacter spp. recovery by direct plating was higher (41.0%) compared to detection after enrichment (24.2%). Statistical modeling of the survey data showed that the likelihood of obtaining a positive result by enrichment culture increases with an increase in the Campylobacter concentration in the sample. In the present study, we provide the first enumeration data on Campylobacter contamination in Belgian chicken meat preparations and address proposals for improving Campylobacter monitoring programs.

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