Bacterial populations associated with three sample types from the neck region of poultry carcasses in the dirty area of an abattoir were characterized. Sample types before and after scalding were skin only, feathers only, and a skin and feather combination. The neck skin of carcasses after the defeathering processing stage was also sampled. Bacterial populations associated with water from the scald tank, rubber fingers at the exit of the defeathering machine, and air in the dirty area were also characterized. Bacterial colonies (751) were randomly isolated from yeast extract-supplemented tryptone soya agar plates exhibiting 30 to 300 colonies. Micrococcus spp. were isolated in the highest proportion from pre- and postscalded carcass samples (63.5 to 86.1% of isolates), regardless of the sample type. Conversely, Enterobacteriaceae (40.3%), Acinetobacter (19.4%), and Aeromonas/Vibrio (12.5%) species predominated on neck skin samples taken from mechanically defeathered carcasses. Isolates from the rubber fingere were, however, predominantly Micrococcus spp. (94.4%). Bacterial groups isolated in the highest proportion from scald tank water samples were Micrococcus spp. (38.3%), species of Enterobacteriaceae (29.1%), and lactic acid bacteria (17.0%). Corynebacterium spp., species of Enterobacteriaceae, and Micrococcus spp. were dominant on air settle plates.

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Author notes

Current address: Meat Industry Centre, Animal Nutrition and Animal Products Institute, Private Bag X2, 1675 Irene, South Africa.