The role of poultry as a reservoir for the transmission of Campylobacter to humans has already been recognized, with 20-30% of the human infections linked to handling, preparation, and consumption of broiler meat. Official Italian data concerning the prevalence of Campylobacter spp. on poultry meats at retail are lacking.
Itlaian researchers collected qualitative and quantitative data concerning the contamination by thermophilic Campylobacters on a wide range of poultry meats marketed in Italy, evaluating the main factors influencing their prevalence and loads. 472 chicken and turkey meat samples (sectioned meats, offal, meat preparations and products) were taken from slaughterhouses, deboning plants and different retailers and submitted to detection/enumeration of Campylobacter spp. Campylobacter spp. was detected in 34.1% of the samples, with general low counts. Higher values were observed in offal (especially liver) and sectioned meats, with significantly higher rates in skin-on samples (86.8% vs 32.7%). Minced meat preparations showed lower prevalence (22.4% vs 58.3%) and counts than whole pieces. Decreasing rates were observed among slaughterhouses (80%), deboning plants (49%), butcher’s shops (37%) and large scale retailers (25%). Sectioned chicken meats were significantly more contaminated than turkey meats. Almost all the isolates were identified as C. jejuni or C. coli, with similar prevalences (18.4% and 20.5%, respectively); C. jejuni was predominant only in samples from slaughterhouses/deboning plants.