Carcass chilling is considered a critical step for inhibiting bacterial growth during poultry processing. The objective of this study was to compare microbiological loads and the incidence of Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. on broiler carcasses subjected to immersion chilling and air chilling. Additionally, the antibiotic resistance patterns of pathogen isolates were determined. The results of this study indicated that the incidence of Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp. tends to be significantly lower in air-chilled broilers, suggesting that cross-contamination may be more prevalent for immersion-chilled broilers. No significant differences were detected between chilling treatments for total aerobic populations or for generic E. coli or coliform counts. Psychrotrophic populations were significantly larger (P < 0.05) in immersion-chilled broilers than in their air-chilled counterparts. Campylobacter isolates from immersion-chilled broilers had a higher incidence of resistance to nalidixic acid (NAL) and related fluoroquinolones than isolates from air-chilled broilers did. Additionally, Campylobacter isolates from air-chilled broilers had a higher frequency of resistance to tetracycline than isolates from immersion-chilled broilers did. With regard to Salmonella, isolates from immersion-chilled broilers had a higher incidence of resistance to NAL than isolates from air-chilled samples did. No Salmonella isolates from immersion- or air-chilled broilers were resistant to the fluoroquinolonestested. The chilling method used during processing may influence the microbial profile of postchilled broilers.

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