December 22, 2014

Campylobacter in Skinless, Boneless Chicken

A study published in BMC Microbiology looked at the prevalence of Campylobacter in skinless, boneless chicken breasts, tenderloins, and thighs. The meat was purchased in food stores in Alabama from 2005 to 2011. Campylobacter bacteria was found in 41% of the meat samples. This study reinforces the fact that consumers should avoid cross-contamination with raw poultry and should cook chicken to well-done, or 165 degrees F.

Researchers found that there was no statistical difference over the years. They also found that seasonality did not affect the presence of Campylobacter jejuni, but did affect the prevalence of Campylobacter coli. And the prevalence of C. coli varied by brand, plant, season, state, store, and year, but the presence of C. jejuni varied by brand, product, state, and store.

Tenderloins had the lowest amount of bacteria. The scientists said that more research and larger databases are needed to help predict the risk of infection associated with each type of cut.

Campylobacter is one of the most common causes of food poisoning and diarrheal illness in the united States. About 13 cases are diagnosed every year for every 100,000 people in the population, adding up to about 2.4 million cases every year. The illness campylobacteriosis occurs much more often in the summer months.

The long-term consequences of a Campylobacter infection include Guillain-Barré syndrome that can lead to paralysis. Scientists believe that up to 40% of Guillain-Barré syndrome cases in this country are triggered by the Campylobacter bacteria. Most cases are linked to raw or undercooked poultry or cross-contamination by contact with raw poultry. Just one drop of juice from a raw chicken can cause an infection.

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