Bio-Mapping Indicators and Pathogen Loads in a Commercial Broiler Processing Facility Operating with High and Low Antimicrobial Intervention Levels
The poultry industry in the United States has traditionally implemented non-chemical and chemical interventions against Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. on the basis of experience and word-of-mouth information shared among poultry processors. The effects of individual interventions have been assessed with microbiological testing methods for Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. prevalence as well as quantification of indicator organisms, such as aerobic plate counts (APC), to demonstrate efficacy. The current study evaluated the loads of both indicators and pathogens in a commercial chicken processing facility, comparing the “normal chemical”, with all chemical interventions turned-on, at typical chemical concentrations set by the processing plant versus low-chemical process (“reduced chemical”), where all interventions were turned off or reduced to the minimum concentrations considered in the facility’s HACCP system. Enumeration and prevalence of Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. as well as indicator organisms (APC and Enterobacteriaceae— EB) enumeration were evaluated to compare both treatments throughout a 25-month sampling period. Ten locations were selected in the current bio-mapping study, including live receiving, rehanger, post eviscerator, post cropper, post neck breaker, post IOBW #1, post IOBW #2, prechilling, post chilling, and parts (wings). Statistical process control parameters for each location and processing schemes were developed for each pathogen and indicator evaluated. Despite demonstrating significant statistical differences between the normal and naked processes in Salmonella spp. counts (“normal” significantly lower counts than the “reduced” at each location except for post-eviscerator and post-cropper locations), the prevalence of Salmonella spp. after chilling is comparable on both treatments (~10%), whereas for Campylobacter spp. counts, only at the parts’ location was there significant statistical difference between the “normal chemical” and the “reduced chemical”. Therefore, not all chemical intervention locations show an overall impact on Salmonella spp. or Campylobacter spp., and certain interventions can be turned off to achieve the same or better microbial performance if strategic intervention locations are enhanced.