Equal numbers of dressed, bagged whole frying chickens from major Oregon and southern and midwestern processors were purchased from retail markets in each of the four seasons in 1988 for a total of 288 samples. Birds were stored at 3°C for 6 d. Sensory evaluation was done by a minimum of 9 and a maximum of 12 trained panelists using 9-point scales. The flavor and intensity of cooked meat and skin, the aroma and intensity of raw and simmered meat, and raw sliminess were evaluated. Total aerobic microorganisms, psychrotrophic microorganisms, and pseudomonads and thermophilic Campylobacter (two seasons) were determined on raw samples. A slime smear test was also used to determine sliminess. The season and sources of fryers had no significant effect on the microbial counts and sensory qualities. Whether the chicken was evaluated before the “sell-by” date on the package or after was not significantly related to sensory scores or microbial numbers. The mean scores for flavor of cooked meat and skin and aroma of raw and simmered meat were all above fair. Only the raw aroma intensity was significantly correlated (r=−0.88) to the aroma quality. The slime smear tests had a positive relationship (p<0.05) to the raw sliminess score by panelists and to microbial counts. Correlations between microbial counts and flavor of cooked meat and aroma of raw and simmered meat were all significant but weak. The narrow range of microbial counts may explain the weakness of correlations found. Cephalothin-resistant, thermophilic Campylobacter was recovered from 42% of the raw birds.

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Author notes

1Technical Paper #9338, Oregon Agricultural Experiment Station.