Journal of Food Processing & Beverages


Do the Current Campylobacter Detection Methods in Poultry Carcass Fail To Include Viable But Non-Culturable (VNBC) Cells?

Serajus Salaheen, Nityananda Chowdhury and Debabrata Biswas*

  • Department of Animal and Avian Sciences and Center for Food Safety and Security Systems, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA

*Address for Correspondence: Dr. Debabrata Biswas, Assistant Professor, Department of Animal and Avian Sciences and Center for Food Safety and Security Systems,University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA; E-mail:
Salaheen S, Chowdhury N, Biswas D. Do the Current Campylobacter Detection Methods in Poultry Carcass Fail To Include Viable But Non-Culturable (VNBC) Cells? J Food Processing & Beverages. 2014;2(1): 2.
Copyright © 2014 Biswas et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Journal of Food Processing & Beverages | ISSN: 2332-4104 | Volume 2 Issue 1
Submission: 03 June 2014 | Accepted: 05 June 2014 | Published: 07 June 2014

Campylobacter, a microaerophilic, spiral-shaped, Gram-negative bacterium, is a major cause of bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide. Campylobacter genus includes 12 species and C. jejuni and C. coli are the most common isolates and involved in human gastrointestinal infection [1]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that C. jejuni causes 2.4 million cases in the United States each year and is the causative agent for 5-14% of overall diarrheal diseases worldwide. Campylobacteriosis with C. jejuni, is characterized by the rapid onset of fever, abdominal cramps, and bloody diarrhea.Sporadic cases are most common and are often associated with handling and consumption of undercooked poultry and poultry products as C. jejuni is part of the normal intestinal flora of chicken. The presence of C. jejuni in processed chicken carcasses offered for retail sale was determined by both conventional bacteriological cultural techniques and polymerase chain reaction (PCR). The PCR base identification methods were able to detect and identify higher percentage of Campylobacter spp. in various type of the specimens including foods, fecal and clinical samples [2-5] but the current PCR base identification methods were able to detect and identify higher percentage of Campylobacter spp. in various type of the specimens including foods, fecal and clinical samples [2-5] but the current PCR base methods used to detect Campylobacter failed to differentiates the vegetative and viable but non-culturable (VBNC). On the otherhand, the bacteriological culture method represents only vegetative cells those grow on conventional culture agar plates.

It has been reported that effects of temperature, aeration and presence of chemicals as well as storage duration can cause the transition of C. jejuni cells from a vegetative state to a VBNC state [6]. Alternatively, it has been found that dormant state of C. jejuni cells can be resuscitated in in vivo culture condition [7-9]. A recent study has shown that quorum-sensing autoinducers play vital role in reviving VBNC cells in Vibrio cholera [10]. Similarly, resuscitationpromoting factors were reported to be responsible for the growth of non-culturable Mycobacterium tuberculosis [11,12]. However, the exact molecular mechanisms behind the activation of VBNC cells or resuscitation into planktonic condition in Campylobacter are still unknown. Current methodologies used in surveillance and microbiological quality control only focus on vegetative C. jejuni cells. Morphology transition from spiral cells in logarithmic phase to predominantly coccoid cells and its role in human infections have been reported [13,14]. That information indicates that there is a gap between the colony count techniques used in quality control/ surveillance assay and real number of C. jejuni cells present in the poultry and poultry products.

Recently, U.S. food and drug administration (FDA) has introduced this bacterial pathogen in addition to Salmonella for routine analysis in retail poultry and poultry products. Currently, very little is known about the survival and recontamination to other product and processing environment that are required to make safer products in the processing plant. It is essential to determine potential threat of vegetative and VBNC C. jejuni contamination and their survival ability in various conditions in poultry carcass and treatment system, and develop the precise processing and molecular methods to improve their detection. In recent years, several molecular techniques including PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and sequencing have been tested and recommended for routine use for surveillance of environmental samples and microbiological quality control. However, methods capable of detecting VBNC Campylobacter are scarce. Josefsen et al. [15] proposed a technique for detecting both viable and VBNC Campylobacter cells using real time PCR and propidium monoazide, but further validation of the technique is required. More research is also required to evaluate the survivability of Campylobacter across the poultry carcass and treatment system. Some possible ways to improve the system are as follows:

i) Develop technology for rapid identification of vegetative and VBNC C. jejuni cells;

ii) Develop a statistical framework necessary to evaluate the potential health risks with this bacterial pathogen in both vegetative and VBNC forms;

iii) Determine the most effective intervention points to control the vegetative and VBNC C. jejuni in chicken carcass and processing environment;

iv) Develop risk monitoring techniques to detect potential hazards of vegetative and VBNC C. jejuni cells in the distribution chain;

v) Develop, complement and maintain an aggressive technology transfer system that effectively communicates the work of the processing industry.


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