Background: The prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in 755 skinless, boneless retail broiler meat samples (breast, tenderloins and thighs) collected from food stores in Alabama, USA, from 2005 through 2011 was examined. Campylobacter spp. were isolated using enrichment and plate media. Isolates were identified with multiplex PCR assays and typed with pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Data were analyzed by nominal variables (brand, plant, product, season, state and store) that may affect the prevalence of these bacteria.
Results: The average prevalence of Campylobacter spp. in retail broiler meat for these years was 41%, with no statistical differences in the prevalence by year (P > 0.05). Seasons did not affect the prevalence of C. jejuni but statistically affected the prevalence of C. coli (P < 0.05). The prevalence by brand, plant, product, state and store were different (P < 0.05). Establishments from two states had the highest prevalence (P < 0.05). C. coli and C. jejuni had an average prevalence of 28% and 66%, respectively. The prevalence of C. coli varied by brand, plant, season, state, store and year, while the prevalence of C. jejuni varied by brand, product, state and store. Tenderloins had a lower prevalence of Campylobacter spp. than breasts and thighs (P < 0.05). Although no statistical differences (P > 0.05) were observed in the prevalence of C. jejuni by season, the lowest prevalence of C. coli was recorded from October through March. A large diversity of PFGE profiles was found for C. jejuni, with some profiles from the same processing plants reappearing throughout the years.
Conclusions: The prevalence of Campylobacter spp. did not change during the seven years of the study; however, it did change when analyzed by brand, product and state. Seasons did not affect the prevalence of C. jejuni, but they did affect the prevalence of C. coli. Larger PFGE databases are needed to assess the temporal reoccurrence of PFGE profiles to help predict the risk associated with each profile.