ABSTRACT

We surveyed chicken livers from various sources for the presence and levels of Salmonella. The pathogen was recovered from 148 (59.4%) of 249 chicken livers purchased at retail stores in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania over about a 9-month period. Positive samples harbored Salmonella at levels of 6.4 most probable number (MPN)/g to 2.4 log CFU/g. The percentage of Salmonella-positive livers purchased at retail outlets in New Jersey (72%, 59 of 82 livers) was significantly higher (P < 0.05) than the percentage for livers purchased in Delaware (48%, 36 of 75 livers); however, this percentage was not significantly different (P > 0.05) from that for livers purchased in Pennsylvania (57.6%, 53 of 92 livers). The pathogen was also recovered more often (P = 0.019) from livers that were packaged by retailers (81 of 121 livers, 66.9%) than from livers packaged directly by processors (67 of 128 livers, 52.3%). In related studies, 12 (5.8%) of 207 chicken livers harvested from birds on a research farm tested positive for Salmonella at levels of 0.4 to 2.2 MPN/g. The recovery rate of Salmonella was 4.4% (6 of 135 livers) from livers with the gall bladder attached and 8.3% (6 of 72 livers) from livers when the gall bladder was removed at harvest on the research farm. We also quantified the levels of a nine-strain cocktail (ca. 6.5 log CFU/g) of Salmonella strains inoculated externally onto or internally into livers both before and after extended cold storage. Storage for at least 2 days at 4°C or 15 days at −20°C resulted in a decrease of about 1.0 log CFU/g in pathogen levels. Given the relatively high recovery rate (ca. 6.0 to 60.0%) and high (possibly illness causing) levels (0.4 MPN/g to 2.4 CFU/g) of Salmonella associated with chicken livers in the present study, further interventions for processors are needed to lower the prevalence and levels of this pathogen on poultry liver.

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