Contamination Of Poultry

The microflora of commercially processed raw poultry cannot be easily defined. Hundreds of different species of microorganisms have been isolated from live poultry and from fully processed, ready-to-eat carcasses and poultry parts. Nonpathogenic spoilage organisms and potential human pathogens are the two general categories of organisms that are of greatest concern to the poultry industry and the ultimate consumer. The following genera have been isolated from fully processed, raw poultry (1-4): Pseudomonas, Achromobacter, Micrococcus, Flavobacterium, Alcaligenes, Proteus, Bacillus, Sarcina, Streptomyces, Pénicillium,, Oasora, Cryptococcus, andRhodotorula. These organisms originate from unlimited sources including the hatchery, the production environment, the feed or water, wild birds or animals, rodents, insects, domesticated farm animals, equipment, and even humans. In the United States and many other countries, almost all commercial broilers and turkeys are reared on the ground in large poultry houses. The outside surface of the live bird, including the feathers, feet, and skin, can support numerous different types of microorganisms. The contents of the intestinal tract of the bird is a constant source of contamination, which can easily be transferred to the live bird during production, transport, and processing. However, the skin of the carcass is more highly contaminated than the visceral cavity of freshly processed raw poultry (5,6). In the United States, the processing of almost all commercial poultry is extremely automated. This fact has caused considerable concern because birds move at considerable speed, up to 91 broilers/min. However, data suggest that commercially processed birds and birds processed by hand do not differ in the incidence or levels of microorganisms (7).

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