Impact of poultry processing operating parameters on bacterial transmission and persistence on chicken carcasses and their shelf life
Chen, SH and Fegan, N and Kocharunchitt, C and Bowman, JP and Duffy, LL, Impact of poultry processing operating parameters on bacterial transmission and persistence on chicken carcasses and their shelf life, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 86, (12) Article e00594-20. ISSN 1098-5336 (2020) [Refereed Article]
It is important for the poultry industry to maximize product safety and quality by understanding the connection between bacterial diversity on chicken carcasses throughout poultry processing to the end of shelf life and the impact of the local processing environment. Enumeration of total aerobic bacteria, Campylobacter and Pseudomonas, and 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing were used to evaluate the processing line by collecting 10 carcasses from five processing steps: prescald, postplucker, pre- and post-immersion chill, and post-air chill. The diversity throughout a 12-day shelf life was also determined by examining 30 packaged carcasses. To identify the sources of possible contamination, scald water tank, immersion chilling water tank, air samples, and wall surfaces in the air-chill room were analyzed. Despite bacterial reductions on carcasses (>5 log10 CFU/ml) throughout the process, each step altered the bacterial diversity. Campylobacter was a minor but persistent component in the bacterial community on carcasses. The combination of scalding, defeathering, and plucking distributed thermophilic spore-forming Anoxybacillus to carcasses, which remained at a high abundance on carcasses throughout subsequent processes. Pseudomonas was not isolated from carcasses after air chilling but was abundant on the wall of the air-chill room and became the predominant taxon at the end of shelf life, suggesting possible contamination through air movement. The results suggest that attention is needed at each processing step, regardless of bacterial reductions on carcasses. Changing scalding water regularly, maintaining good hygiene practices during processing, and thorough disinfection at the end of each processing day are important to minimize bacterial transmission.