Airborne microbial composition in a high-throughput poultry slaughtering facility.
A high-throughput chicken slaughtering facility in Beijing was systematically investigated for numbers of airborne microorganisms. Samples were assessed for counts of aerobic bacteria, Staphylococcus aureus, total coliforms, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Listeria monocytogenes, Bacillus cereus, and Salmonella. During a 4-month period (September to December 2011), samples were collected for 10 min three times daily (preproduction, production, and postproduction). Samples were collected for three consecutive days of each month with an FA-1 sampler from six sampling sites: receiving-hanging, soaking-scalding and defeathering, evisceration, precooling, subdividing, and packing. Humidity, temperature, wind velocity, and airborne particulates also were recorded at each sampling site and time. The highest counts of microorganisms were recorded in the initial stages of processing, i.e., the receiving-hanging and defeathering areas, with a definite decline toward the evisceration, prechilling, subdividing, and packing areas; the prechilling area had the lowest microbial counts of 2.4 × 10(3) CFU/m(3). Mean total coliforms counts ranged from 8.4 × 10(3) to 140 CFU/m(3). Maximum E. coli counts were 6.1 × 10(3) CFU/m(3) in the soaking-scalding and defeathering area. B. cereus, P. aeruginosa, and S. aureus represented only a small proportion of the microbial population (1,900 to 20 CFU/m(3)). L. monocytogenes and Salmonella were rarely detected in evisceration, precooling, subdividing, and packing areas. Our study identified the levels of bioaerosols that may affect chicken product quality. This finding could be useful for improved control of microbial contamination to ensure product quality.