Best Management Practices for Salmonella and Campylobacter Control in Poultry Processing Plants
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Campylobacter and Salmonella are the top two pathogens associated with poultry-related foodborne illness, currently responsible for over 800,000 illnesses annually (13). The reduction of these pathogens on commercial poultry products at the processing plant level is crucial to reducing the incidence of foodborne illness, as significant reduction in these pathogens prior to reaching the processing plant may not be easy. Currently, poultry processing plants use multiple intervention methods at various sites to reduce the Campylobacter and Salmonella load as much as possible, with few plant management practices being standard throughout poultry processing. The determination of these best practices is necessary to maximize the reduction of these foodborne pathogens while minimizing the cost and waste within the processing plant. Six poultry processing plants were analyzed in the Southeastern United States in order to evaluate their current pathogen control practices, suggest changes, and evaluate to the effectiveness of the changes. Surveys were sent to the plant Quality Assurance managers to determine production levels, antimicrobial interventions, and current pathogen testing practices. Then an initial sampling set was taken at each plant, at sites that included carcass samples before any pre-evisceration intervention, after exiting the inside-outside bird washer (IOBW), after exiting the pre-chiller, after exiting the primary chiller, and after exiting any post-chill intervention, as well as a water sample from each scalder, pre-chiller, primary chiller, and post-chill dip tank or finishing chiller, and finally a pooled manure sample to analyze incoming microbial load. Enumerations were performed for Campylobacter and Salmonella as well as enrichments for Campylobacter and Salmonella. After the initial sample set, each plant was suggested several changes to be made and once the changes were implemented a second sampling set was conducted to determine the effectiveness of these changes. The analysis of the various practices showed that peracetic acid (PAA) was the most effective antimicrobial currently in use. The use of a post-chill antimicrobial immersion tank and/or use of Cetylpyridinium Chloride CPC spray cabinet also displayed a further reduction in microbial levels when the primary chiller was not sufficient. Slight microbial buildup occurred in the immersion tanks, however effective cleaning techniques and chiller maintenance may minimize these negative effects. Further research on the use of PAA, CPC, and post-chill immersion tanks may help further optimize plant pathogen control practices throughout the United States.