Background: Campylobacter is among the leading causes of foodborne zoonotic disease worldwide, with chicken meat accounting for the majority of human illnesses. This baseline study generates the first quantitative data for Campylobacter contamination in the United Arab Emirates chicken meat. Such data will help inform risk analysis and develop evidence-based food safety management. Methods: For a year, chilled whole chicken carcasses (n = 315) belonging to seven different companies were collected from retail supermarkets. According to standard methods, Campylobacter enumeration was achieved by a direct plating in all chicken samples, and isolates were confirmed using multiplex PCR. Results: Campylobacter spp. were recovered from 28.6% (90/315) of the samples. Campylobacter enumeration results indicated that 71.4% of the tested samples were contaminated with < 1 log10 CFU (colony-forming units)/g, and 7% were contaminated with ≥3 log10 CFU/g. The mean Campylobacter concentration was 2.70 log10 CFU/g, with a standard deviation of 0.41 log10 CFU/g. Campylobacter counts varied significantly in relation to the sourcing chicken processing companies. Six out of the seven surveyed companies provided Campylobacter positive samples. Moreover, significantly higher (p-value< 0.0001) counts were found to be associated with smaller size chicken carcasses (weighted 600–700 g; compared to the other categories, 800 g and 900–1000 g). Interestingly, C. coli was present in 83% of the positive samples, while C. jejuni was only detected in 6.4% of the samples. Compared with studies from other countries utilizing the same enumeration method, the UAE chicken appears to have a lower prevalence but a higher Campylobacter count per gram of carcasses. Higher Campylobacter counts were significantly associated with smaller carcasses, and C. coli was the dominant species detected in this study’s samples. Conclusion: These results add to our understanding of the local, regional and global epidemiology of Campylobacter in chicken meat. Outputs of the current study may aid in developing a risk assessment of Campylobacter in the UAE, a country among the biggest per capita consumption markets for chicken meat worldwide.
- Chicken meat
- Middle East
- Risk assessment
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis