A considerable fraction of the poultry carcasses becomes contaminated with Campylobacter by cross-contamination from the digestive tract of colonized broilers at slaughter. Campylobacter in the crop may serve as a possible source of cross-contamination, because the crop may contain high numbers of Campylobacter and is more likely to rupture during the slaughtering process than intestines. In this study, the correlation between Campylobacter colonization levels in crop and cecum was assessed in 48 broilers of 31 days of age. In addition, the effect of drinking water supplemented with 0.2% volatile fatty acid (VFA) on these Campylobacter colonization levels was studied. No correlation between crop and cecal colonization levels was found (ρ = 0.09; P = 0.71), indicating that future studies on cross-contamination should include an examination of not only cecal colonization levels but also crop colonization levels. Supplementation of drinking water with VFA did not result in a significant reduction of colonization levels in either the crop (P = 0.50) or the ceca (P = 0.92), indicating that this is not an effective measure to reduce cross-contamination at slaughter.
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