Research was undertaken to investigate cross-contamination of the domestic kitchen environment during poultry fillet preparation using a streptomycin-resistant strain of Pseudomonas fluorescens as a model organism. The potential role of a cook-in-the-bag technology to control this cross-contamination was also investigated. Poultry fillets were inoculated with P. fluorescens (6.06 log10 CFU/cm2). Six people were challenged to unpack, defrost, cut and cook without contaminating the preparation environment. After preparation, the chopping board, knife blade, dishcloth, refrigerator handle, oven handle, oven buttons, draining board, tap, microwave handle, microwave buttons, plate, tinfoil and press handle were tested for the presence of the P. fluorescens strain, before and after washing. The experiment was then repeated with a precut cook-in-the-bag product. In a separate experiment, the effect of freezing and frozen storage (−20C) on Campylobacter and the sensory attributes of chicken fillets were investigated. The cook-in-the-bag approach considerably reduced the incidence and levels of cross-contamination in the domestic kitchen. Freezing significantly (P < 0.05) reduced the Campylobacter counts on inoculated fillets after 7 days at −20C (1.73 log10 CFU/g). While there was no adverse effect on taste, fillets that had been frozen were significantly more “firm” and “less moist” as compared with fresh product.
It was concluded that using cook-in-the-pack technologies would reduced cross-contamination of the domestic kitchen during poultry preparation and Campylobacter could be specifically targeted using freezing/frozen storage.