ABSTRACT

Campylobacter is one of the most commonly reported foodborne pathogens in the United States. Because poultry is considered a major source of Campylobacter infections in humans, reduction of Campylobacter contamination in poultry products is likely the most important and effective public health strategy for reducing the burden of campylobacteriosis in humans. A comprehensive on-line survey was conducted of key stakeholders in the U.S. broiler industry, including broiler farm managers (n = 18), poultry veterinarians (n = 18), and processing plant managers (n = 20), to assess the current pre- and postharvest Campylobacter interventions and control measures practiced by the industry for reducing Campylobacter contamination of broiler products. The survey also included information regarding each respondent's understanding of Campylobacter transmission and ecology in relation to broiler production. The results revealed that a majority of the establishments included in the survey are following the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service guidelines for controlling Campylobacter contamination in broiler flocks and on carcasses. However, establishments appeared to be putting more effort into Salmonella control than into Campylobacter control both on the farm and in the processing plant. A majority of the respondents responded that current interventions are not effective for reducing Campylobacter contamination, especially on the farm. Many respondents did not understand the risk factors associated with Campylobacter colonization in broiler flocks and on carcasses. Continued educational and training programs for key stakeholders in the U.S. broiler industry are needed to increase awareness of the issues associated with Campylobacter infection in broiler chickens and of the fact that Campylobacter infection is a multifaceted problem that requires efforts from both the pre- and postharvest sectors.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Survey participants reported a lack of effective on-farm Campylobacter interventions.

  • Survey participants mostly adhered to government guidelines for reducing Campylobacter.

  • Survey participants differed in an understanding of Campylobacter transmission and ecology.

  • Better Campylobacter education programs are needed for poultry industry stakeholders.

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