Campylobacter contamination of raw meat and poultry at retail sale: identification of multiple types and comparison with isolates from human infection

J Food Prot. 2000 Dec;63(12):1654-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-63.12.1654.


Campylobacter species are the major cause of acute bacterial enteritis reported in the United Kingdom, nonetheless many aspects of campylobacteriosis epidemiology remain poorly understood. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli in fresh bovine, ovine, and porcine liver and chicken portions from retail outlets and compare strain subtype distributions with those associated with cases of human campylobacteriosis occurring within the same period and study area. Meat samples were examined by both enrichment culture and direct plating, and Campylobacter isolates were subjected to the same test procedures (identification, serotyping, phagetyping, resistotyping) applied to the clinical strains. Campylobacter species were isolated from 73.2% of 489 samples examined. Chicken exhibited the highest contamination rate (83.3%), followed by lamb (72.9%), pig (71.7%), and ox (54.2%) liver. C. jejuni predominated in chicken (77.3%), lamb (75.0%), and ox (49.0%) liver, and C. coli predominated in pigs' liver (42.4%). Campylobacter fetus was identified in 12.5% of ox liver samples and also in pig and lamb. Of the human isolates, 89.3% were C. jejuni and 10.7% C. coli. The greatest variation in C. jeuni subtypes was observed among the chicken isolates (57 sero/phage-types), followed by human (48 types) and lamb (30 types). A significant proportion of the chicken and lamb isolates shared identical subtypes with the human strains, indicative of their role as potential sources of infection. Almost 30% of samples yielded multiple strains of Campylobacter, a finding that reinforces the epidemiological importance of selecting and testing more than one presumptive isolate per sample.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Campylobacter / classification
  • Campylobacter / drug effects
  • Campylobacter / isolation & purification*
  • Campylobacter Infections / epidemiology
  • Campylobacter Infections / microbiology*
  • Campylobacter Infections / transmission
  • Cattle
  • Chickens
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial
  • England / epidemiology
  • Food Contamination*
  • Food Microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Meat / microbiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Serotyping
  • Sheep
  • Swine