A study presented at the 2017 American Association of Avian Pathologists annual meeting has revealed an unusual way that ground turkey is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria.

Rather than they turkey’s muscle tissue, it is the skin that is likely a major contributor to ground turkey contamination. Researchers stumbled upon this finding after injecting 1-day old commercial turkeys with a mix of five Salmonella Heidelberg strains. After 6 weeks and 11 weeks, they tested the turkeys’ muscle tissue and the breast skin.

Researchers discovered that the muscle tissues tested contained no traces of Salmonella Heidelberg. One-third of the breast skin samples, however, tested positive after 11 weeks. Salmonella in poultry products is mainly attributed to cross-contamination with fecal matter during the processing phase.

This study was led by Claire-Sophie C. Rimet, DVM at University of Georgia’s Poultry Diagnostic and Research Center. Rimet says that between 2011 and 2014, five major Salmonella outbreaks linked to poultry products implicated Salmonella Heidelberg, likely prompting the aforementioned research study.

More on turkey contamination:
Poultry Safety in an Ever-Changing World
USDA Reveals New Safety Measures to Reduce Salmonella and Campylobacter in Poultry
Effects of New Inspection Rules on Poultry and Other Meat

Sign up for Food Safety Magazine’s bi-weekly emails!

Subscribe to our podcast: Food Safety Matters!