Counts of Campylobacter spp. and prevalence of Salmonella associated with New Zealand Broiler carcasses

Published in the Journal of Food Protection, Vol. 71, No. 12, 2008, Pages 2526–2532

Natalie D. Chrystal1, Sara J. Hargraves2, Amanda C. Boa2 and Catherine J. Ironside2

1 Complete Feed Solutions, P. O. Box 251 308, Pakuranga, New Zealand; and
2 NZLABS, P.O. Box 11127, Sockburn, Christchurch, New Zealand


In common with many other countries around the world, the most frequently reported cause of gastrointestinal illness in New Zealand is campylobacteriosis. The poultry industry and regulatory agencies are working to address this. Similarly, the control of Salmonella on poultry has been a focus of industry and regulatory agencies for some time. However, recent data are limited on the prevalence of Campylobacter and Salmonella on retail chicken products in New Zealand. A survey was carried out to determine the prevalence and number of Campylobacter and the prevalence of Salmonella on chickens sold at retail in New Zealand. In total, 163 samples (representing the major chicken processors in New Zealand) were purchased from retail outlets in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch and analyzed. Salmonella was not detected on any carcasses or associated external packaging. Campylobacter was isolated from 73 (44.8%) carcass rinse samples collected and from weep water samples associated with 20 (12.3%) of the 163 carcasses, but was not detected on the external packaging of any samples. Counts of Campylobacter present on whole bird carcasses ranged from less than 400 CFU per carcass (not detected) to more than 600,000 CFU per carcass. The overall mean count of Campylobacter on positive carcasses was 3.6 log CFU per carcass. The difference between processing plants in the overall mean count of Campylobacter on broiler carcasses or on the frequency of Campylobacter-positive carcasses was not significant. The levels of Campylobacter found to be associated with broiler carcasses were similar to levels reported in other developed countries.

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