Establishment of a microbiological profile for an air-chilling poultry operation in the United States

J Food Prot. 2003 Feb;66(2):272-9. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-66.2.272.


The microbiological profile of an air-chilling poultry process was investigated from the farm through the processing plant. Within a 1-year period, nine broiler flocks from four different farm sources were studied. Numbers of total aerobes, coliforms, psychrotrophic organisms, E. coli Biotype I (generic E. coli), Salmonella spp., and Campylobacter spp. were determined for multiple sampling sites on the farm as well as in the processing plant. Farm samples were collected the day before the chickens were slaughtered at the plant. The same flock was sampled at the plant on the day of slaughter. Sites located before evisceration (BE), after evisceration (AE), and after chilling (AC) were sampled. Results indicated a positive correlation between contamination of ceca with Salmonella on the farm and the presence Salmonella in carcass samples from the plant for all three types of sampling sites. The in-plant trend for total aerobes, coliforms, and generic E. coli revealed a significant decrease from counts obtained before evisceration to those obtained for the (AC) final product when flock variations were taken into account. The average coliform counts were 3.91, 3.27, and 2.59 log10 CFU/ml of rinse for BE, AE, and AC samples, respectively. Generic E. coli counts were 3.74, 3.08, and 2.20 log10 CFU/ml of rinse for BE, AE, and AC samples, respectively. No reductions in numbers of Campylobacter or Salmonella were observed during processing, which suggests that practical intervention strategies for lowering pathogen levels are critical on a multilevel basis at the farm and in the plant.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Husbandry
  • Animals
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / growth & development
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / isolation & purification
  • Campylobacter / growth & development
  • Campylobacter / isolation & purification
  • Chickens / microbiology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Enterobacteriaceae / growth & development
  • Enterobacteriaceae / isolation & purification
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Handling / methods*
  • Food Microbiology
  • Food-Processing Industry / standards*
  • Salmonella / growth & development
  • Salmonella / isolation & purification