Whole poultry tends to have a lower microbial count than cut-up poultry. Most of the organisms on such products are at the surface, so surface counts/cm2 are generally more valid than counts on surface and deep tissues. May120 showed how the surface counts of chickens build up through successive stages of processing. In a study of whole chickens from six commercial processing plants, the initial mean total surface count was log10 3.30/cm2.
After the chickens were cut up, the mean total count increased to log10 3.81 and further increased to log10 4.08 after packaging. The conveyor over which these birds moved showed a count of log10 4.76/cm2. When the procedures were repeated for five retail grocery stores, May found that the mean count before cutting was log10 3.18, which increased to log10 4.06 after cutting and packaging. The cutting block was shown to have a total count of log10 4.68/cm2. Campylobacter jejuni is found less often on turkey products than salmonellae.
Fertile turkey eggs and newly hatched turkey poults were free of this organism in one study.2 However, fecal samples were positive about 2 weeks after hatching in up to 76% of those in one brooder house. The organism could not be recovered from either the surface or the drip of frozen, thawed turkey carcasses at the wholesale or retail level, and the scalding and carcass washing steps appear to have been responsible.1
Of the various cooked poultry products, precooked turkey rolls have been found to have considerably lower microbial numbers of all types (Table 4–14). In an examination of 118 samples of cooked broiler products, C. perfringens was found in 2.6%.112 In a study of chicken carcasses in Argentina, 7 of 70 contained Yersinia spp. including Y. enterocolitica and Y. frederiksenii (4.3% for each); and Y. intermedia (1.4%). All Y. enterocolitica isolates belonged to biogroup 1A, serotype 0:5, and phagotype X2. 56
Enterococci are common on poultry products. Of 227 turkey samples examined in the state of Iowa in 2001–2002, 226 were positive for these organisms with 60% of isolates identified as E. faecium and 31% of E. faecalis.84 Of 234 chicken samples, 236 were positive with 79% of isolates being E. faecium and 16% E. faecalis.
The changes in enteric bacteria during various stages of poultry chilling were studied by Cox et al.29 who found that carcass counts before chilling were 3.17 log10 cfu/cm2 for APC and 2.27 log10 cfu/cm2 for Enterobacteriaceae. After chilling, the latter organisms were reduced more than the APC. On day 0, E. coli constituted 85% of enterics but after 10 days at 4◦C, they were reduced to 14% whereas Enterobacter spp. increased from 6 to 88% during the same time