Furtherprocessed Poultry Products

Further-processed poultry products or items of poultry meat processed beyond the eviscerated carcass stage are subjected to many subsequent handlings that are major sources of microbial contamination. However, information concerning the microbiological quality of precooked chicken products is limited. The destruction of foodborne microorganisms is an essential part of the commercial cooking operation.

The microbiological quality of further-processed turkey products has been reported. In the 38 cooked products examined, neither Salmonella spp. nor Escherichia coli were found, whereas 16 out of 38 contained C. perfringens, and only 1 out of 38 was positive for S. aureus (25). It was reported that bacterial counts of ready-to-eat turkey rolls increased following storage at 5°C (26). Salmonella and coagulase-positive Staphylococcus were isolated from some of these samples.

Frozen fried chicken is usually subjected to subsequent handling, which provides a potential opportunity for microbial contamination of the product. The microbiological quality of frozen fried chicken products was studied; it was reported that the log total microbial count ranged from 2.74 to 4.66/gm (27). Neither mold nor yeast was detected, and all samples were Salmonella negative. Micrococci and Staphylococci have been isolated from both hot water and microwaved precooked chicken parts and commercial ready-to-eat sliced chicken products (28).

The total aerobic and coliform counts in chicken patties during refrigerated storage were studied (29). Escherichia was the predominant genus at day 0, but Enterobacter was predominant after 10 days of storage. The quality of pre-fried chicken patties and nuggets was studied (30). It was indicated that the predominant microflora in raw and fried chicken patties were gram-positive, rod-type organisms. In addition, vacuum packaging did not inhibit the ultimate psychrotrophic microflora growth on patties and nuggets after refrigerated storage.

Chicken ham cooked to internal temperatures of 68.3 and 71.1°C had a longer lag phase microbial growth at 2 to 4°C than products cooked to an internal temperature of 65.0°C. The shelf life of chicken ham at 2 to 4°C with 68.3 and 71.1°C end point internal temperatures was 33 and 35

days, respectively. Chilling the products in ice slush immediately after cooking extended the shelf life approximately 7 days. Vacuum packaging was found to be an effective method for extending the shelf life of cooked ham (31).

An interaction between frying temperature and internal temperature was significant for microbial counts of deep-fat fried chicken patties. When patties were fried to an internal temperature of 48.9°C, there was a significant decrease in microbial counts as frying temperature increased. This effect was not significant when patties were fried to an internal temperature of 60.0 or 71.1°C. An internal temperature of 71.1°C is required to be labeled "fully cooked," "ready-to-eat," "baked," or "roasted" poultry according to the USDA (32). Raw chicken patties had a mean total psychrotrophic count of log 5.1 colony forming unit (CFU)/gm. Chicken patties fried to an internal temperature of 71.1°C had microbial counts ranging from 1.52 to 1.75 CFU/gm.

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