Improving processing hygiene and broiler meat safety

Improving processing hygiene and broiler meat safety in the slaughterhouse in relation to Campylobacter. An intervention study.

PhD-fellow: Ewa Pacholewicz (MSc)


Broiler meat contaminated with gastrointestinal bacterial pathogens has been reported as an important vehicle of foodborne illnesses. Campylobacteriosis caused by thermophilic Campylobacter is one of the most frequently reported foodborne illnesses. Risk assessment and observational studies confirm that the incidence of campylobacteriosis associated with consumption of chicken meat decreases, if the number of Campylobacter on the chicken carcasses would be reduced. It is not expected in the short term to achieve a major decrease of infection with Campylobacter at the broiler farms. Thus, an exploration of intervention at slaughterhouses is needed. Slaughtering operations contribute to decrease in Campylobacter counts on the final product; however there are several steps that might contribute to Campylobacter increase. Improving the hygienic performance at those processing steps could result in lower level of Campylobacter at the final product. The factors impacting the hygienic performance of broiler chicken slaughterhouse in relation to gastrointestinal pathogenic bacteria are not well recognised. Those might be related to processing technology but also to the food safety management and decision making behavior related to processing hygiene.   


The objective of the research is to investigate the possibilities to diminish the number of Campylobacter on the poultry meat and to investigate potential improvements to the hygienic performance of slaughtering operations, related to processing technology and the decision making behavior of the process operators.

1. Validate a real time PCR protocol, combined with propidium monoazide (PMA) to enumerate live Campylobacter in chicken rinse samples.  
2. Investigate whether there are differences in the hygienic performance in two broiler chickens slaughterhouses, within each slaughterhouse on different days and between the slaughterhouses.
3. Investigate the impact of interactions between process and operators on microbiological level at the end product, by evaluating the behavior of operators towards fulfilling crucial activities related to processing hygiene.
4. Determine and evaluate technological (related to processing technology) and managerial (related to decision-making behaviour of operators) interventions that could improve hygienic performance during broiler processing.


Janevska, D.P., Gospavic, R.  Pacholewicz, E., & Popov, V. (2010) Application of a HACCP-QMRA approach for managing the impact of climate change on food quality and safety. Food Research International, 43 (7), S1915-1924.

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