Chicken carcass and parts rinsate samples and fecal samples were collected at different stages in a commercial poultry processing facility. Microbiological analysis was conducted to determine the levels of multiple indicator microorganisms and prevalence of Salmonella. Antibiotic susceptibility testing was conducted on Salmonella isolates to determine antimicrobial resistance profiles. Whole genome sequencing was performed for tracing isolates in the processing chain, serotyping, and determining genetic features associated with virulence and antimicrobial resistance in the bacterial genome. The overall contamination rate was 55% for Salmonella. Prevalence increased by 80% in chicken parts compared with the previous processing site (postchill carcasses), suggesting possible cross-contamination during the cutting and deboning processes. The levels of indicator organisms were reduced significantly from the prescalding to the parts processing sites, by 3.22 log CFU/mL for aerobic plate count, 3.92 log CFU/mL for E. coli, 3.70 log CFU/mL for coliforms, and 3.40 log CFU/mL for Enterobacteriaceae. The most frequent resistance in Salmonella was associated with tetracycline (49 of 50, 98%) and streptomycin (43 of 50, 86%). Some Salmonella isolates featured resistance to the cephems class of antibiotics (up to 15%). Whole genome sequencing analysis of Salmonella isolates identified nine different clonal populations distributed throughout the samples taken at different stages; serotype Kentucky was the most commonly isolated. This study provides insights into microbial profiling and antibiotic-resistant strains of chicken rinsate samples during poultry processing.
Keywords: Antimicrobial resistance; Chicken processing; Salmonella; Whole genome sequencing.