Molecular tracking, through processing, of Campylobacter strains colonizing broiler flocks

Karen T Elvers, Victoria K Morris, Diane G Newell, Vivien M Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)


Many of the poultry flocks produced in the United Kingdom are colonized with Campylobacter, and the intensive nature of poultry processing usually results in contaminated carcasses. In this study, a previously reported molecular oligonucleotide probe method was used to track a specific flock-colonizing strain(s) on broiler carcasses during processing in two United Kingdom commercial poultry processing plants. Five Campylobacter-positive flocks were sampled at four points along the processing line, postbleed, postpluck, prechill, and postchill, and two Campylobacter-negative flocks processed immediately after positive flocks were sampled prechill. flaA was sequenced from Campylobacter strains isolated from these flocks, and strain-specific probes were synthesized. Skin and cecal samples were plated onto selective agar to give individual colonies, which were transferred onto membranes. These were then hybridized with the strain- and genus-specific probes. For all the 5 positive flocks, there was a significant reduction in campylobacters postbleed compared to postpluck but no subsequent fall on sampling pre- and postchill, and the strain(s) predominating on the carcasses throughout processing came from the flock being processed. This indicates that strains from the abattoir environment were not a significant cause of carcass contamination in flocks with well-established campylobacter colonization. However, negative flocks that were preceded by positive flocks were contaminated by strains that did not generally originate from the predominating strains recovered from the ceca of the previous positive flocks. This suggests that the abattoir environment has a significant role in the contamination of carcasses from negative but not fully colonized flocks.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5722-9
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number16
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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