ABSTRACT

Numerous outbreak investigations and case-control studies of campylobacteriosis have provided evidence that handling Campylobacter-contaminated chicken products is a high risk factor for infection and illness. In this study, the cross-contamination and transfer rates of Campylobacter jejuni from chicken to ready-to-eat food were determined in various food handling scenarios. Skinless raw chicken breasts were artificially contaminated with C. jejuni and diced on cutting boards of three different materials. Whether cold water, cold water with detergent, or hot water was used, statistically significant differences were found between the transfer rates of C. jejuni to unwashed and washed cutting boards or hands, respectively. When both kitchen knife and cutting board were reused after dicing the artificially contaminated chicken, the transfer rates of C. jejuni to cucumber cut on bamboo, wooden, and plastic cutting boards were 16.28, 12.82, and 5.32%, respectively. The transfer rates from chicken to bread, a large lift-up water faucet handle, and a small twist faucet handle via unwashed hands were 0.49, 4.64, and 3.14%, respectively. This research provides scientific evidence that various types of contaminated kitchenware and cook's hands are vital potential vehicles for the cross-contamination of Campylobacter from raw chicken to ready-to-eat food and emphasizes the importance of timely and proper cleaning to prevent cross-contamination during food handling; therefore, high-quality consumer education to reduce the risk of foodborne infection is urgent and necessary.

HIGHLIGHTS
  • Plastic cutting boards resulted in significantly less C. jejuni transfer.

  • The transfer rate of a cutting board or hands was significantly decreased after being washed.

  • Ready-to-eat food and faucet handles could be contaminated indirectly.

  • Cleaning kitchen utensils is of great hygienic significance.

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