Research reveals ‘chicken juice’ influence on campylobacter

Liquid released from chicken carcases helps spread campylobacter, scientists have found in new research.

The study conducted into defrosting chickens found that liquid, which the researchers referred to as “chicken juice”, oozing from carcases provided the perfect environment for the spread of campylobacter as it helped it cling to surfaces through ‘biofilms’.

“Biofilms are specialised structures where some bacteria form on surfaces that protect them from threats from the environment,” explained the researchers. The research found campylobacter to be a relatively weak bacterium, but through the formation of such biofilms the bacterium is protected outside the poultry tract. It also makes the bacteria more resistant to antimicrobials and disinfection treatments, the research found.

The findings emphasised the importance of properly cleaning work surfaces.

The study was led by Helen Brown, a PhD student supervised by Dr Arnoud van Vliet at IFR, which is strategically funded by the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council. Helen’s PhD studentship is co-funded by an industrial partner, Campden BRI.

“We have discovered that this increase in biofilm formation was due to chicken juice coating the surfaces we used with a protein-rich film,” said Helen Brown. “This film then makes it much easier for the campylobacter bacteria to attach to the surface, and it provides them with an additional rich food source.

“This study highlights the importance of thorough cleaning of food preparation surfaces to limit the potential of bacteria to form biofilms,” said Brown.

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