Aim: The primary aim of this study was to determine the incidence of Campylobacter spp. on turkey, presented for processing at participating production plants located in the midwest region of the United States.
Methods and Results: The two participating plants were visited on a monthly basis for a period of 1 year. Sampling of carcasses was carried out using a surface swab technique. Swabs were obtained from carcasses at two points on the production line – prechill and postchill. In addition, samples of chill water were also obtained for examination. Isolation and detection of Campylobacter was carried out using enrichment in Preston broth with recovery of the organism on blood free Campylobacter selective agar (CCDA). Isolates recovered were screened and identified using the API Campy® identification system. The study found that 34·9% of all samples tested were positive for Campylobacter spp. The overall, contamination rates observed for both plants were relatively similar (39·2% for plant A and 30·6% for plant B). Differences were observed in the incidence of Campylobacter spp. on prechill vs postchill carcasses (i.e. 40·8% prechill vs 37·6% postchill for plant A and 41·8% prechill vs 19·8% postchill for plant B). Campylobacter species most often isolated included Camp. jejuni and Camp. coli. Other species recovered were Camp. fetus fetus, Camp. upsaliensis and Camp. lari.
Conclusions: The incidence of Campylobacter spp. on processed poultry was relatively common. Factors such as the processing plant examined, season and the farms presenting birds for processing influenced the incidence of the pathogen.
Significance and Impact of the Study: Differences were observed in the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. isolated from the two plants examined. The study suggests a seasonal prevalence of Campylobacter in the cooler months with processing conditions also influencing the overall occurrence of the organism. The incidence, isolation and detection of Campylobacter spp. from processed poultry are discussed.