Research – Multilocus Sequence Subtypes of Campylobacter Detected on the Surface and from Internal Tissues of Retail Chicken Livers

Journal of Food Protection 

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Foodborne campylobacteriosis has been traced to undercooked chicken liver. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of Campylobacter associated with chicken livers at retail and to determine which subtypes are detected on the surface and in the internal tissues of the livers. Fifteen packages of fresh chicken livers, each representing a unique combination of processing plant and sell-by date, were collected at each of three retail grocery stores in Georgia. Three intact, undamaged livers per container (n = 45) were selected and sampled using each three methods: outside swab, inside swab accessed by pressing through a heat-sterilized outer surface, and whole liver blended in enrichment broth. Each liver sample with 0.1 mL of exudate from packages was cultured for Campylobacter by plating on Campy-Cefex agar. The most prevalent Campylobacter colony type from each positive sample was subjected to whole genome sequencing and multilocus sequence typing. Campylobacter was detected in at least one sample from every package. Surface swabs were positive for 29 of 45 livers, but significantly fewer swabs of internal tissue were positive, 14 of 45 (P < 0.01). Campylobacter was detected in 30 of 45 blended whole liver samples. Multiple subtypes were detected from eight livers. In four livers, a different subtype was dominant on the surface than was dominant internally. In one liver, three subtypes were detected. Various subtypes of Campylobacter can be readily isolated from fresh retail chicken livers; therefore, undercooked chicken livers pose a food safety risk.

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