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Poult Sci. 1995 Jun;74(6):937-41.

Campylobacter spp. in broilers on the farm and after transport.

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Poultry Microbiological Safety Research Unit, Richard Russell Agricultural Research Center, USDA, Athens, Georgia 30604-5677, USA.


Colonization of the ceca and contamination on carcasses of chickens by Campylobacter spp. was investigated. Samples were taken on the farm and after transport and holding. In the first set of experiments, 20 chickens, obtained from each of 10 broiler farms, were collected from houses containing 6- to 7-wk-old birds. Half of the birds were slaughtered at the farm; the other half were transported (10 birds per chicken coop) to a holding facility and killed within 16 to 18 h. The levels of Campylobacter spp. on the carcass and in the ceca were assessed. Ceca from birds in 9 of the 10 farms sampled were positive for Campylobacter spp. Colonization levels ranged from 10(4.11) to 10(7.28) cfu Campylobacter spp./g cecal matter, except on one farm, where the organism was not isolated. The mean count on the farm was 10(5.44) cfu Campylobacter spp./g cecal material, and after transport the mean was 10(6.15) cfu/g. Significant increases (P = .0085) in levels of Campylobacter spp. on the chicken carcasses occurred after transport. Levels of Campylobacter spp. enumerated from unprocessed chicken carcasses after transport averaged 10(7.11) per carcass, up from an average of 10(3.66) cfu per carcass of the farm. To further verify this observation, field trials were conducted to assess levels on carcasses before and after commercial transport. Employing five farms and 200 6-wk-old chickens, the above observations were confirmed: prior to transport 12.1% of the chickens harbored an average of 10(2.71) cfu per carcass, but after transport 56.0% of the chicken exteriors harbored an average of 10(5.15) cfu per carcass. The results of this study indicate that transport and holding prior to processing contributes to the Campylobacter spp. of > 10(4) cfu normally found on processed poultry carcasses.

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