Assessment of post-Hurricane Katrina recovery in poultry slaughter establishments

J Food Prot. 2007 Jun;70(6):1498-501. doi: 10.4315/0362-028x-70.6.1498.


Control of bacterial contamination during poultry slaughter can be compromised by natural disaster. In October 2005, disaster recovery was evaluated in 11 broiler slaughter establishments 1 month after operations were disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. A questionnaire was administered to characterize the establishment's operational disruption. Carcass rinses were collected at the early and late stage of the slaughter process (rehang and postchill). Counts for generic Escherichia coli were determined for all rinses. Salmonella culture and serotyping were performed on postchill samples. Historical U.S. Food Safety and Inspection Service data on the presence of Salmonella also were examined. The mean duration of disruption was 6.3 days (range, 3 to 9 days). Loss of utilities (electricity and water) was the cause of prolonged recoveries. Most establishments (64%) did not exceed the m performance criteria threshold for generic E. coli (>2 log or 100 CFU/ml) during the recovery period. The mean reduction in E. coli counts between rehang and postchill was 2.3 log or 200 CFU/ml (range, 0.9 to 3.1 log CFU/ ml). Rinse samples from 5 of 11 establishments were positive for Salmonella. Of 12 Salmonella isolates that were recovered, eight were Salmonella Kentucky. Salmonella Heidelberg and Salmonella Thompson were recovered from one establishment, and two isolates of Salmonella Typhimurium were isolated from another. This study provided empirical reassurance that the establishments' processes controlled bacterial contamination. Data on reductions in E. coli counts during poultry slaughter may help establishments control microbial contamination. Other data (e.g., Salmonella and Campylobacter enumeration) may also have merit for this purpose.

MeSH terms

  • Abattoirs / standards*
  • Animals
  • Chickens / microbiology*
  • Colony Count, Microbial
  • Disasters*
  • Escherichia coli / isolation & purification*
  • Food Contamination / analysis*
  • Food Handling / methods
  • Food Microbiology
  • Humans
  • Louisiana
  • Salmonella / isolation & purification*