Quantification of campylobacter in swine before, during, and after the slaughter process

M. J. Abley, T. E. Wittum, S. J. Moeller, H. N. Zerby, J. A. Funk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Campylobacter has been implicated as a major cause of foodborne illness worldwide. Pigs can be subclinically infected, and fecal contamination of meat during slaughter is a food safety risk. The objective of this study was to determine the association between the concentration of Campylobacter pre- and periharvest with postharvest contamination in swine. Samples were collected from 100 individually identified swine during the pre-, peri-, and postharvest periods. For each animal, the following phases were sampled: on farm (fecal sample), in lairage (hide swab), post-stunning and exsanguination (rectal contents), prechilling (carcass swab), and final product (rib meat) sample. The proportions of samples that were Campylobacter positive were 90, 95, 76, 100, and 49% for fecal, rectal content, hide, carcass, and rib meat samples, respectively. The mean Campylobacter concentrations for each sample were fecal sample, 1.7 × 10 6 CFU/g; rectal content, 1.2 × 10 7 CFU/g; hide swab, 1.4 CFU/cm 2; carcass swab, 1.7 × 10 3 CFU per half carcass; and rib meat, 18 CFU/g. There was a positive correlation between Campylobacter concentrations in fecal samples (R = 0.20, P = 0.065) and concentration of Campylobacter on rib meat, and between rectal content sample concentration (R = 0.20, P = 0.068) and the concentration on rib meat. There was no association between the isolation of Campylobacter on rib meat and the isolation of Campylobacter at any pre- or periharvest stage. This could indicate that the risk of a meat product being contaminated is associated with pigs that shed higher concentrations of Campylobacter before slaughter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)139-143
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of food protection
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Microbiology


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