Raw poultry products often are contaminated with Salmonella and Campylobacter, and these bacteria can be transmitted through meat juice on the packages. An observational study was conducted to assess consumer exposure to meat juice during shopping and to quantify the transmission of meat juice from poultry packages to hands and other surfaces. Ninety-six participants completed the shopping study; 402 swabs were collected and analyzed for the presence of meat juice by an immunoassay. Overall, meat juice was detected on 61% of poultry package surfaces, 34% of shoppers' hands, 41% of grocery bags, 60% of kitchen surfaces, and 51% of food item surfaces. When meat juice was detected on the purchased poultry packages, the chance of the meat juice being on the shopper's hands, grocery bags, food items, and kitchen surfaces was significantly higher ( P < 0.005) compared with packages on which meat juice was not present. Shoppers who had poultry wrapped separately during checkout had a significantly lower ( P < 0.05) chance of meat juice on the food items. However, using plastic bags and wrapping poultry separately did not significantly reduce the likelihood of meat juice on kitchen surfaces at home due to consumers' practices of repackaging before storage. Results suggested that the transfer of meat juice through direct contact with the poultry packages is a major concern during shopping and should be prevented.
Keywords: Consumer; Cross-contamination; Food safety; Grocery shopping; Raw poultry.