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Molecular Ecology of Relevant Pathogens in the Turkey Processing Industry

Cliver, Dean
University of California - Davis
Start date
End date
L. monocytogenes frequently contaminates poultry products with up to 40% of processed broilers and 10 to 25% of cut up raw turkey parts being positive at retail. The processing environment serves as a reservoir for the pathogen. Epidemiological and strain typing data suggest that the prevalence of L. monocytogenes in the processing environment and in raw products has significant food safety relevance. Although poultry contamination by L. monocytogenes has been studied extensively with broilers, the turkey processing industry has been minimally addressed.
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NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: L. Monocytogenes frequently contaminates poultry. This project will help to identify critical control points in processing facilities and contribute to an improvement in the nation's food supply.

APPROACH: The microorganisms will be subtyped by DNAa-based fingerprinting and will be characterized in terms of genetic and physiologic attributes of relevance to their ability to colonize the processing plant and to cause human disease.

PROGRESS: 2002/08 TO 2004/09
This was an 18-month project, to run from 9/01/2002 through 2/29/2004. The lead institution was North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the funds came from the USDA. The intention was to determine the incidence and types of Listeria monocytogenes in turkey slaughter and processing facilities. We were to obtain our samples in California or very near here, as we were the only group participating west of the Mississippi River. Erly on, we took a lead in recommending sampling and testing protocols, to ensure that results from the various participating groups would be comparable. However, when the time came to collect in-plant samples, we were unable to obtain permission from plant operators to enter their establishments for that purpose. We approached large and small California turkey processors, as well as USDA (since they funded the study), to no avail. Even after an extension of the project period, we were unable to enter any establishment to obtain samples. Several thousand dollars in unexpended funds were returned to USDA via NCSU.

IMPACT: 2002/08 TO 2004/09
The intention of this project is to enhance the safety of the US food supply. US food supply.

Funding Source
Nat'l. Inst. of Food and Agriculture
Project source
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Natural Toxins
Viruses and Prions
Bacterial Pathogens
Chemical Contaminants
Food Defense and Integrity
Heavy Metals