Explanatory Variables Associated with Campylobacter and Escherichia coli Concentrations on Broiler Chicken Carcasses during Processing in Two Slaughterhouses

Ewa Pacholewicz, Arno Swart, Jaap A. Wagenaar, Len J.A. Lipman, Arie H. Havelaar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This study aimed at identifying explanatory variables that were associated with Campylobacter and Escherichia coli concentrations throughout processing in two commercial broiler slaughterhouses. Quantative data on Campylobacter and E. coli along the processing line were collected. Moreover, information on batch characteristics, slaughterhouse practices, process performance, and environmental variables was collected through questionnaires, observations, and measurements, resulting in data on 19 potential explanatory variables. Analysis was conducted separately in each slaughterhouse to identify which variables were related to changes in concentrations of Campylobacter and E. coli during the processing steps: scalding, defeathering, evisceration, and chilling. Associations with explanatory variables were different in the slaughterhouses studied. In the first slaughterhouse, there was only one significant association: poorer uniformity of the weight of carcasses within a batch with less decrease in E. coli concentrations after defeathering. In the second slaughterhouse, significant statistical associations were found with variables, including age, uniformity, average weight of carcasses, Campylobacter concentrations in excreta and ceca, and E. coli concentrations in excreta. Bacterial concentrations in excreta and ceca were found to be the most prominent variables, because they were associated with concentration on carcasses at various processing points. Although the slaughterhouses produced specific products and had different batch characteristics and processing parameters, the effect of the significant variables was not always the same for each slaughterhouse. Therefore, each slaughterhouse needs to determine its particular relevant measures for hygiene control and process management. This identification could be supported by monitoring changes in bacterial concentrations during processing in individual slaughterhouses. In addition, the possibility that management and food handling practices in slaughterhouses contribute to the differences in bacterial contamination between slaughterhouses needs further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2038-2047
JournalJournal of Food Protection
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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