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Study Justifies Broiler Neck Skin as Campylobacter Testing Site

11 January 2013

BELGIUM - Ghent University scientists have found that Campylobacter bacteria were distributed over the whole broiler carcase. There were differences between different sites on the carcase but the neck skin was mostly likely to be Campylobacter-positive and contained the highest contamination.

The variation in the Campylobacter concentrations between skin sites of broiler carcases should be considered when Campylobacter enumeration data are interpreted and used in risk assessment models, according to Julie Baré and colleagues at Ghent University in Belgium. In a paper published in Food Control online, they comment that their results are useful both at a national and a community level to support decisions on setting microbiological criteria or on sampling strategies in the frame of Campylobacter monitoring and control programmes.

Campylobacter is one of the most important agents of human bacterial enteritis in the western world, with handling and consumption of raw or undercooked chicken meat as the main source of infection, reported Baré and co-authors. Until today, extensive quantitative data on Campylobacter distribution patterns on broiler carcases is lacking in the published literature. Their study compared Campylobacter concentrations on six skin sites of broiler carcasses post-chilling.

Results obtained show that Campylobacter was distributed over the whole broiler carcase, though variation between skin sites was detected. Abdominal and back skin samples revealed a significantly lower occurrence of Campylobacter than other skin sites.

Neck skin was one of the most Campylobacter-positive carcase sites and contained the highest contamination levels (3.45 ± 1.10 log10 colony-forming units per gramme; cfu/g). From all tested skin sites, breast and wing skin samples showed the highest correlated Campylobacter concentrations with the neck skin samples. In addition, analysing only one carcase sampling site does not always reflect the high Campylobacter contamination level (>3 log10 cfu/g) of a broiler carcase.


Baré J., M. Uyttendaele, I. Habib, O. Depraetere, K. Houfa and L. De Zutter. 2013. Variation in Campylobacter distribution on different sites of broiler carcasses. Food Control, 32 (1) July 2013, p279–282.

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