A common cause of foodborne disease from poultry products can survive refrigeration and freezing say researchers from Pennsylvania. Their findings appear in the December 2004 issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology.
Campylobacter bacteria are estimated to be responsible for 2.5 million cases of infection in the United States each year and 50% of those cases are attributed to contaminated poultry. Campylobacters are believed to achieve optimal growth in extremely warm temperatures while failing to thrive in temperatures below 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Campylobacter jejuni appears to be the exception. Previous studies have shown a small portion able to withstand refrigeration and freezing independently, but the combined effect of both has yet to be tested.
In the study samples of ground chicken and chicken skin infected with C. jejuni were refrigerated, frozen or exposed to a combination of both. A significant portion of the bacteria were able to survive refrigerated and frozen temperatures in both ground chicken and chicken skin.
“A significant portion of C. jejuni on the poultry samples studied survived during refrigerated, frozen, and combined refrigerated and frozen storage,” say the researchers. “The present study indicates that these treatments alone will not add a significant margin of safety with respect to this pathogen and cannot replace sanitary production and handling.”
(S. Bhaduri, B. Cottrell. 2004. Survival of cold-stressed Campylobacter jejuni on ground chicken and chicken skin during frozen storage. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 70. 12: 7103-7109.)
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