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One specific C. jejuni mutant is unable to colonize the chicken cecum.

May 19, 2023

2 Min Read
Post-harvest methods to reduce campylobacter on poultry products explored

USPOULTRY and the USPOULTRY Foundation recently announced the completion of a funded research project at the University of Tennessee in which a researcher investigated post-harvest methods to reduce Campylobacter on poultry products.

Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of bacterial-derived gastroenteritis in the U.S., due to its ability to asymptomatically reside within the intestinal tracts of poultry. During processing, the bacterium can be released from birds and contaminate the meat where, despite the efforts of processors and grocers, it can survive and remain infectious for extended periods of time. Consumers may then be infected by C. jejuni after eating undercooked, contaminated food.

The ability of C. jejuni to survive this process is surprising since the bacterium does not thrive under the conditions it encounters during processing and storage. In particular, C. jejuni is sensitive to atmospheric levels of oxygen with cell viability being reduced following even brief exposure. This observation led to the primary question of this research project: what bacterial factors does C. jejuni possess that allows it to survive processing and storage so that it can remain infectious to the consumer?

Dr. Jeremiah Johnson, assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, completed the research project that aimed at determining whether defined C. jejuni mutants colonize chickens as readily as the parental strain. Researchers identified one specific mutant that is unable to colonize the chicken cecum. The finding was supported by the observation that chicks infected with both strains ended up colonized with only parental C. jejuni.

The research summary can be found here.

The research was made possible in part by an endowing Foundation gift from Koch Foods and proceeds from the International Poultry Expo, part of the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE). The research is part of the Association’s comprehensive research program encompassing all phases of poultry and egg production and processing.


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