Survey of the U.S. broiler industry regarding pre- and post-harvest interventions targeted to mitigate Campylobacter contamination on broiler chicken products.
Campylobacter is one of the most commonly reported foodborne pathogens in the U.S. Because poultry is considered a major source of Campylobacter infections in humans, reducing Campylobacter contamination in poultry products is likely the most important and effective public health strategy to reduce the burden of campylobacteriosis in humans. A comprehensive on-line survey was conducted of key stakeholders of 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 post-harvest Campylobacter interventions and control measures practiced by the industry to reduce Campylobacter contamination of broiler products. The survey additionally collected information regarding each respondent's understanding of Campylobacter transmission and ecology in broiler production. The results showed that a majority of the establishments included in the survey are following the USDA-FSIS recommended guidelines to control Campylobacter contamination in broiler flocks and on carcasses. Nonetheless, establishments appeared to be putting more effort put into Salmonella control than Campylobacter control both on-farm and in the processing plant. A majority of the respondents additionally felt that current interventions are not effective at reducing Campylobacter contamination, especially on-farm. Many respondents showed a lack of understanding of risk factors associated with Campylobacter colonization in broiler flocks and on carcasses. Continued educational and training programs of key stakeholders of the U.S. broiler industry are needed to increase awareness of Campylobacter in broiler chickens and that Campylobacter is a multifaceted problem that requires efforts from both the pre- and post-harvest sectors.