‘Chicken juice’ helps Campylobacter survive in biofilms

| November 18, 2014

SEM image of Campylobacter cells attached to chicken juice on a glass slide. Image: Louise Salt, IFR

SEM image of Campylobacter cells attached to chicken juice on a glass slide. Image: Louise Salt, IFR

Researchers from the UK Institute of Food Research have been investigating how the comparatively fragile cells of the foodborne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni manage to survive in poultry processing environments outside of the avian intestinal tract.

Specifically, they looked at the role of a chicken meat exudate (chicken juice) from defrosted frozen birds by investigating its effect on the initial attachment of Campylobacter cells to surfaces and on biofilm formation.

They found that supplementation of a broth culture with 5% chicken juice produced increased biofilm production by one C. coli and four C. jejuni isolates on glass, polystyrene and stainless steel surfaces. The increase was observed in both microaerobic and aerobic conditions and C. jejuni was able to grow and form biofilms in static aerobic cultures when chicken juice was present.

Electron microscopy revealed that the Campylobacter cells in biofilms were associated with particulates in the chicken juice rather than with the surface itself, suggesting that the juice makes the surface suitable for colonisation and provides nutrients.

It is hoped that the study will help microbiologists to understand how Campylobacter persists in the food chain and why such a high proportion of chicken carcases become cross contaminated by during processing. The pathogen is now the most common cause of foodborne disease in many developed countries and contaminated poultry is recognised as an important risk factor.

The study is published in the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology and can be accessed in full here.

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Category: Research

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