Determination of Microbiological Hazards and Critical Control Points in Regional Rabbit Processing Facilities

Project Overview

Project Type: Graduate Student
Funds awarded in 2004: $10,000.00
Projected End Date: 12/31/2005
Grant Recipient: Alabama A&M University
Region: Southern
State: Alabama
Graduate Student:
Major Professor:
Leonard Williams
Alabama A&M University


  • Animals: rabbits


  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research


    The microbiological quality of whole rabbit carcasses were determined at pre and post-evisceration and pre and post chilling during processing of whole rabbit carcasses from a regional rabbit processing facility. Data indicated Salmonella, Staphylococci and total viable plates counts were significantly reduced for pre and post-chilled whole rabbit carcasses compared to samples tested at pre and post-evisceration.


    Worldwide rabbit meat consumption is estimated to be 1,000,000 tons annually. Consumption of this meat is increasing in the United States as evidenced by the recent awarding of a contract to Tri-state Rabbit Growers (Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi) to provide quality whole rabbit meat to a major cruise line and Sysco foods, Inc. However, most of this meat is produced by small processors that may not have resources to conduct investigations on the quality and safety of their product. Studies have been performed to evaluate the overall microbial quality of rabbit meat carcasses, but no attention has been given to investigate the incidence of specific foodborne pathogens on rabbit meat and the feasibility of adapting HACCP plans in small farmer rabbit producers. Rabbit carcasses may allow survival of microorganisms because of its relative high pH (5.9 to 6.2) after dressing.

    Project objectives:

    1: To determine incidence of Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella, and Listeria monocytogenes on whole carcass rabbit meat.

    2: Determine the feasibility of incorporating HACCP plans into small farm rabbit producers.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.