Enumeration of Campylobacter spp. on the surface and within chicken breast fillets

Luber,P.; Bartelt,E.

AIM: To investigate how many Campylobacter bacteria are present on the surface and inside chicken breast fillets, with a focus on generating data distributions which can be used in risk assessments for this pathogen-commodity combination. METHODS AND RESULTS: We analysed 100 fresh retail chicken breast fillets (skinless and deboned) by means of a rinse sample for surface and 55 fillets for internal pathogen contamination using 10 g meat and a most probable number technique. Prevalence was 87% on the surface and 20% in the deep tissue. The mean number of Campylobacter on the surface of the fillets was 1903 CFU, with a median of 537 CFU and a maximum of 38,905 CFU. Campylobacter counts inside the tissue were <1 CFU g(-1) meat (mean = 0.24 CFU, median = 0.15 CFU, maximum = 0.74 CFU). In addition, we investigated the influence of the type of package on the occurrence of the pathogen. Data provide an indication of less favourable conditions for survival of the pathogen on chicken meat packed under a modified atmosphere of carbon dioxide in nitrogen, in comparison with ambient air or vacuumed packages. CONCLUSIONS: Given the high numbers of the pathogen on the chicken meat surface in comparison with low levels of internal contamination, it can be concluded that cross-contamination during the preparation of contaminated chicken is a more important pathway for consumers' exposure to Campylobacter than the consumption of undercooked meat. Significance AND IMPACT OF THE STUDY: The detailed quantitative data on the occurrence of C. jejuni and C. coli on the surface and inside chicken meat presented here can be useful for future probabilistic exposure assessments

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Luber,P. / Bartelt,E.: Enumeration of Campylobacter spp. on the surface and within chicken breast fillets. 2006. Blackwell.

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