Cross contamination of turkey carcasses by Salmonella species during defeathering.

The Great Plains Institute of Food Safety, Department of Veterinary and Microbiological Sciences, North Dakota State University, Fargo 58105, USA.
Poultry Science (Impact Factor: 1.52). 02/2007; 86(1):162-7.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Salmonella present on the feathers of live birds could be a source of contamination to carcass skin during defeathering. In this study, the possibility of transfer of Salmonella from the feathers of live turkeys to carcass tissue during the defeathering process at a commercial turkey processing plant was investigated. The contribution of scald water and the fingers of the picker machines to cross contamination were also examined. Over 4 visits, swab samples were collected from 174 randomly selected tagged birds before and after defeathering. Two swab samples from the fingers of the picker machines and a sample of scald water were also collected during each visit. Detection of Salmonella was carried out following standard cultural and identification methods. The DNA fingerprints obtained from pulsed field gel electrophoresis of Salmonella serotypes isolated before and after defeathering, from scald water, and from the fingers of the picker machines were compared to trace cross contamination routes. Salmonella prevalence was similar before and after defeathering during visits 2 and 3 and significantly increased after defeathering during visits 1 and 4. Over the 4 visits, all Salmonella subtypes obtained after defeathering were also isolated before defeathering. The results of this study suggest that Salmonella was transferred from the feathers to carcass skin during each visit. On each visit, the Salmonella subtypes isolated from the fingers of the picker machines were similar to subtypes isolated before and after defeathering, indicating that the fingers facilitate carcass cross contamination during defeathering. Salmonella isolated from scald water during visit 4 was related to isolates obtained before and after defeathering, suggesting that scald water is also a vehicle for cross contamination during defeathering. By using molecular subtyping, this study demonstrated the relationship between Salmonella present on the feathers of live turkeys and carcass skin after defeathering, suggesting that decontamination procedures applied to the external surfaces of live turkeys could reduce Salmonella cross contamination during defeathering.

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