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Processing of Poultry

Top quality poultry carcasses can only be obtained from live birds in good health, wellfinished, and well-fleshed by slaughter time. So good care and management during the growing phase is an important part of producing poultry meat successfully.

Poultry to be processed should not be fed for 6-8 hours before slaughter but should have access to water. Fasting reduces the feed and ingested material in the digestive tract and helps prevent contamination during processing. It is best to have a wire-bottom holding cage or crate for the birds during the fasting period to help keep them clean. Dirty birds contaminate the scald water. Keeping the scald water clean will reduce contamination of the poultry meat being processed.

Poultry houses should be well ventilated; this is important in maintaining correct housing temperature and humidity. Clothing, footwear, cleaning facilities & materials should be provided and laundered for all staff and visitors. A foot-bath should be installed containing disinfectant at the poultry house entrance and its use made compulsory.

External contamination
There are several sources of external contamination which should be prevented, reduced or controlled. These include: Visiting vehicles which could carry infection causing, microbes and spores. A delivery point should be located away from the poultry house and feed store to reduce contamination levels Poultry crates or modules which are used constantly for transporting birds outside the poultry farm. These should be properly cleaned using disinfectant Visitors must wash their hands and use the overalls & footwear provided Staff should be actively discouraged from keeping poultry at home

Processing Facilities
The processing area should be a place that is clean, has an adequate water supply, and is free from flies. The processing procedure should be done in three steps: 1) Killing, scalding, picking, singeing; 2) eviscerating (removal of internal organs) and washing; and 3) chilling and packaging. To reduce possibilities of contamination, the operations in the first step should be completed before starting the evisceration procedures or done in a separate room or outside. The area should be arranged and equipped for ease and cleanliness of work.

Inspection of Live Birds before Slaughter (ante mortem inspection)


Poultry intended for slaughter should undergo ante-mortem health inspection within 24 hours of slaughter and this should be repeated if the birds are subject to delay. Ante-mortem health inspection at the poultry processing plant may be restricted to detecting injuries received in transport if the poultry have been inspected fully at the farm of origin within the 24 hours immediately preceding the ante-mortem health inspection and found to be healthy.

The ante-mortem health inspection should determine: whether the poultry shows symptoms indicative of a disease which can be transmitted to humans or animals. These diseases or conditions include some forms of Newcastle disease, Fowl Plague, Rabies, Salmonellosis, Pasturellosis, Ornithosis and others. whether the poultry shows symptoms of a disease or of a disorder affecting their condition which may make the meat unfit for human consumption.

Poultry housing should be properly separated from other animal housing, human habitation and their animals. It should be kept clean while the birds are growing and thoroughly disinfected once the birds have gone for sale and slaughter. The containers for the birds should have been disinfected before birds are placed in them and the vehicle should have been similarly treated. Attention should be given to the cleanliness of the livestock handlers, their clothing and footwear.

Attention is drawn below to the concept of cross contamination of poultry carcases by micro-organisms. The most important areas to monitor are the reception areas for the live birds, the scalding tank area, the defeathering machine (which can harbour undetected micro-organisms for years) and the chilling tank.

Given the nature of the bird as described in the first paragraph, it is not difficult to see the consequences of birds flapping, touching and struggling in confined spaces in the likes of the reception and slaughter areas of the processing plants. Wash water from scalding and plucking contains many micro-organisms which can be distributed by aerosol as well as in flowing water. Poultry are processed rapidly and eviscerated through a small opening in the body cavity. The alimentary tract can split easily, spilling its contents over the carcase on both the outside and inside. Process water, such as used in washing, chilling and further processing can become contaminated easily. From the whole process, surfaces in the building and on machinery can become contaminated as can the hands of processing operators and their processing implements. Each has the potential to contaminate the poultry carcases further.

The consequences of carcases contaminated with micro-organisms on product quality and consumer health are well documented. They fall into two main categories. Those which cause spoilage of the meat and those which transmit pathogenic micro- organisms to the consumer.

There are many forms of spoilage organisms but Pseudomonads are the most important. They are found in large numbers on feathers but rarely in the alimentary tract. In the living bird, their activity is kept under control by the physical barrier of the skin, competition for suitable nutrients from other micro-organisms and the temperature of the skin which is too warm for their optimal growth. After slaughter of the bird, they are destroyed in large numbers by the scalding tank as most do not grow or survive above 28C. Those that do however, can re-contaminate other carcases in subsequent processing operations. Unless carcases are washed thoroughly in super-chlorinated water and chilled promptly, the Pseudomonads may be present in sufficient numbers to overcome competition from other micro-organisms, and grow at their optimum temperature. Spoilage of the carcase may result.

Pathogenic organisms in poultry are responsible for gastro-intestinal disturbances in humans. Salmonella spp are found in the caeca of young birds and are transmitted from bird to bird at all stages of growth, handling and transport of the live bird via a faecal route. Cross contamination may occur during processing at the abattoir. Under proper processing conditions, Salmonellae fail to grow rapidly in the processing plant and at temperatures below 7C hardly at all. Rapid chilling of the carcase therefore, is recommended. Salmonellae may continue to thrive on carcases subjected to temperature abuse and may then become a hazard to health.

Salmonella spp attract the most publicity but are not the only organisms responsible for food poisoning. Clostridia spp, particularly Clostridium perfringens are also found in poultry arriving at the processing plant. They, too, are found in the caeca and colon of live birds. Although they infect live birds and cross contaminate at the processing plant like Salmonellae they are found, fortunately, in small numbers at the end of a processing operation provided operations are carried out efficiently. They do not grow well below 15C and provided the bird is kept properly chilled and is well cooked at home, no real danger of food poisoning exists. However, some micro-organisms can withstand normal cooking temperatures and, if cooked poultry is left in warm conditions, can multiply quickly to cause food poisoning.

Staphylococcus aureus and Campylobacter jejuni are also important micro-organisms in poultry processing. They survive within the body of poultry and readily cross contaminate other carcases during processing. Once again, prompt chilling is necessary if their numbers are to remain at safe levels after processing.

Regrettably it is not possible to hope that a thorough final wash will be sufficient to clean poultry to a safe level of contamination. While many bacteria are washed away during processing, sufficient remain to cause problems if carcases are not properly handled. Washing is not a very effective way of removing bacteria. They are found in the bottom of feather follicles and many creases within the skin which hold water, positions which are difficult to clean and conditions conducive to microbial growth. Simple washing is insufficient to remove all these organisms. Bacteria also attach themselves to the skin by a mechanism which is not fully understood. They form a film which is not removed by scalding or chlorination.

Inspection of Live Birds after Slaughter (post mortem inspection)


All parts of each bird should be inspected immediately after slaughter. To do this all parts of the carcase should remain identifiable until the inspector has declared the carcase fit. This is best done if the viscera is left attached to the carcase.

The post-mortem health inspection should include: visual inspection of the bird palpation and incision of the slaughtered bird, where necessary investigation of anomalies in consistency, colour, smell and, where appropriate, taste laboratory tests, where necessary.

Killing And Dressing


Killing. Remove birds from coops and crates carefully to reduce bruising (fig. 1). Place the bird in a killing cone or hang it from a shackle.

fig. 1

Scalding. Dry picking today is usually limited to some waterfowl processing. Pick these birds immediately after they have been bled. The appearance of the dressed carcass as well as the ease of feather removal will be determined by the time and temperature of the scalding procedure. Lower temperatures are used with longer periods of immersion in the scald water. The hotter the water the shorter the scald time and more chance of overscalding. The use of higher temperatures results in the loss of the yellow cuticle layer of the skin and may result in more skin tears during feather removal. Boiling water should be kept nearby to keep the scald water hot enough during the entire processing period. For best results check water temperature with a thermometer.

Young birds with easier to remove feathers can be scalded at 125 - 130 F. for 30 to 75 seconds. The proper length of time for adequate feather removal leaves the epidermal layer of the bird's skin intact. Temperatures of near 140 F. for 30 to 75 seconds can be used with older birds for easier feather removal. The cuticle covering of the skin will generally be removed at this temperature. Because of the difficulty in removing feathers from waterfowl, ducks and geese are processed at higher temperatures 1 to 2 minutes in water at 160 - 170 F. Adding detergent to the scald water helps water penetrate through the feathers, especially on waterfowl.

Immerse the bird, head first in the scald water while holding the bird by the shanks. The bird should be moved up and down and from side to side in the scalding container to aid in more even and thorough scalding. If a proper scald has been achieved, the tail and wing feathers can quite readily be removed. Repeat dips of short duration may be necessary for difficultto remove feathers.

Picking. Hang the bird back on the rope or shackle for ease in picking. Use a slight pressure with gentle rubbing action for more rapid and easier removal of feathers (fig. 8). Do not delay picking after the scalding. Develop a picking procedure, pulling the large tail and wing feathers first and then setting a sequence of removing the rest of the body feathers. Rinse the bird with water after most of the feathers have been removed. Use a slight pressure and rubbing motion to remove any remaining small feathers and pinfeathers. A pinning knife or a dull knife helps remove the small pinfeathers.

Waxing waterfowl. Waterfowl are often immersed in a container of paraffin wax to remove small feathers and down after most feathers have been removed. Follow directions supplied by the wax manufacturer. Usually at least two dips of a fairly dry carcass in a wax bath at 135 - 160 F. and then dipping in cold water to set the wax will build up a wax coating to remove the feathers. Some directions recommend a hotter temperature for the first dip, with a dip in water or a short air cooling period between wax dips. The wax should be removed when it is at the flexible stage, not cold enough to be brittle. A little experimentation with times and temperature should lead to satisfactory results. The wax can be reclaimed by heating and straining out the feathers. Dirt, blood, and water will separate from the melted wax.

Evisceration
Remove head and neck. Cut off the head between the head and the first neck vertebra using a twisting motion to cut through the joint (fig. 10). Do not try to cut through the bone.

Carcase cooling in the third scale of operations, (Model 3 2500 birds/day), is similar to the second but offers a choice of three chilling methods after evisceration. Carcases may be spray washed followed by air chilling in a cold room (the preferred system of operation but requiring more management) or chilled in a tank of cooled water or slush ice. Once again, the scale should be such that the operation can be closely managed by technical staff using a properly established operational code of practice.

Chilling and Packing


Carcasses can be pre-chilled by placing them in a container of cold tap water that is overflowing continuously at a slow rate or periodically changed. This will cool the carcass to water temperature and further clean the carcass. Poultry carcasses should be chilled in ice and water to lower the temperature of the carcasses to 40 F. before packing. Smaller birds can be chilled in a couple of hours. Turkeys and large capons or roasters will require several hours before they reach this temperature. Remove the chilled carcasses from the ice water mixture and hang by a wing to let drain for about 10 minutes before placing in bags for transport or storage. Make certain that all water is drained from the bird before packaging. After the giblets have been chilled, wrap the heart, liver, and gizzard in a small square of plastic food wrap or place in a small plastic bag. The giblet pack and the neck can be placed in the body cavity of the properly cooled carcass before packaging.

Birds to be transported should be chilled thoroughly or frozen. The packaged birds should be wrapped in several layers of newspaper or other material with insulating value to keep them cold during transport until they can be properly refrigerated or frozen at destination.

Staff Health
All staff who work in the poultry plant are handling meat which will eventually be eaten. The opportunity exists, therefore, for transmission not only of pathogenic organisms associated with poultry but also diseases associated with the operative. Poor handling techniques can also lead to cross contamination of spoilage organisms and reduce the shelf life of the product. As a consequence, there are several rules to be followed which can help to reduce these risks.

Every person who works where meat is handled should: keep clean. This should include a daily bath. Particular attention should be paid to hands, fingernails, arms, face, hair and other exposed parts. wash and disinfect hands every time work is started or resumed, particularly after a visit to the lavatory, smoking, eating, coughing, sneezing (using a handkerchief), handling money, garbage or any dirty material. Hand washing should be carried out as a matter of routine at very frequent intervals, using hot water (43C), soap and a nylon nail brush as appropriate. wash and disinfect hands and arms immediately after contact with diseased poultry.

Plant Sanitation and Maintenance


Plant sanitation During production, waste materials collect on the surfaces of the building and equipment. These are an ideal media for micro-organisms to grow. Growth will occur if the waste is not properly removed. The microorganisms may be transferred from their growing place to the product through disturbance by people touching the dirt and directly touching the product. The product may also be contained by coming into contact with dirt and by incorrect cleaning procedures which simply move the dirt and micro-organisms about without destroying them.

As an activity, cleaning is a complete science in itself and well beyond the scope of this document. Nevertheless there are certain general principles followed which are universal to most food factories. These involve the use of the following which, in themselves, may be sanitizing agents: steam 110C hot water over 75C warm water 4575C cold water up to 30C foam

These carriers may be used in conjunction with certain chemicals eg: disinfectants detergents soap It is perhaps worth recording the main classes of sanitizing agents and some of their characteristics to give some idea of their usefulness in poultry processing plants.

Chlorine and chlorine-based products, including hypochlorite compounds: These are probably the most suitable disinfectants for food plants. They act rapidly against a wide range of micro-organisms and are relatively cheap. They are used in concentrations of 100250 mg of available chlorine per litre. They are corrosive to metal and have a bleaching action. After adequate contact time, they should be rinsed off. They are readily inactivated by organic materials so they should be used after the premises have been cleaned rather than as an initial cleansing agent. They may leave an odour in the building which may taint the meat if not properly rinsed off after use. Iodophor compounds: These are always blended with detergents in an acid medium. They have a rapid action and a wide range of anti-microbial activity. They are of intermediate cost. They are used in concentrations of 25 40 mg/1 of available iodine at a pH of less than 4. They give a visual indication of their effectiveness as they lose their colour when the residual levels have dropped to ineffective levels. They are not toxic when used at normal concentrations but since they can combine with substances in food to cause taint, they should not come into contact with food or their contact surfaces. They are corrosive and should be rinsed off after a suitable contact time. Like chlorine-based compounds, they are readily inactivated by organic materials so they should be used after the premises have been cleaned rather than as an initial cleansing agent. Quaternary ammonium compounds: These have some detergent characteristics. They are non-toxic, colourless and relatively non-corrosive to metal. They are not as effective against gram-negative bacteria as are chlorinebased disinfectants and iodophors. Thorough rinsing is necessary as the compounds adhere to surfaces. They are used at concentrations of 1:50 to 1:250, depending on the hardness of the water. They are expensive to purchase but are useful where it is necessary to use an alkaline disinfectant, where odour, taste and toxicity are to be avoided and persistence is required. Amphoteric surfactants: These are of a comparatively new class of disinfectant with both detergent and antibacterial activity. They are non-corrosive, tasteless, odourless and of low toxicity. They are not as effective as chlorine-based or quaternary ammonium compounds. They are expensive and require good rinsing after use. They are effective against a wide spectrum of organisms.

The delivery of the sanitizing solutions may be achieved through the use of: high pressure washers steam and cold water hoses various brooms, brushes, squeegees, scrubbing brushes, buckets and spades There can be no general recommendations made about use of the most appropriate sanitizing method for each situation. Similarly, the use of particular chemicals (brand names) cannot be recommended since they are a combination of chemicals with the potential for synergistic activity or reaction. They should be changed frequently. The reasons for this can be given in the following historical example: In one factory a particular brand of disinfectant was used in the high pressure washer. The disinfectant was delivered through a fine nozzle which formed an aerosol. On the edges of the spray, certain micro-organisms were subjected to very weak concentrations of the chemical and formed a resistant strain. The full user strength disinfectant was of little use and had to be changed.

All sanitizing agents should be handled in accordance with the manufacturers instructions. This includes the use of protective clothing, particularly overalls gloves and boots. This is important when using iodophor compounds as these agents may penetrate the skin, pass into the blood and accumulate in the thyroid gland. In the tropics there is usually a severe shortage of sanitizing agents. The most frequently encountered are sodium hypochlorite (chlortabs), steam and sunlight. Severe mechanical effort in conjunction with cold water often remains the system of last resort. For the sake of simplicity, it will be assumed that these are the only agents for the foregoing. Poultry processing plants with access to a wider range of sanitizing agents should use them in accordance with the manufacturers instructions, change them when able and monitor both cost and efficiency.

Plant maintenance In the context of the poultry processing factory, plant maintenance means that all equipment and structures are examined frequently and carefully, and serviced or maintained according to the manufacturer's instructions. It does not mean that repairs are made once things have gone wrong, failed, broken etc. Plant maintenance is necessary. A separate budget is required so that it can be carried out. It is intended that faults are found before they become critical and stop the production of poultry meat or affect its quality. Of course, machinery will break down unexpectedly and need to be repaired. There are several levels of repair which can be undertaken in the factory. For example, a broken poultry hanger can be straightened so that it causes no mechanical problems during a production session. It should then be repaired fully before the next day's work as there will be a continuing loss of productivity.

Sanitation and Maintenance Schedules


The following gives some idea of the sort of schedule that could be drawn up and followed to maintain efficiency of the poultry processing plants discussed in this document. The operations are accumulative ie the operations recommended for one period include those given for the previous periods. Some plants will not have some of the equipment and facilities which require attention. It is taken as read that all plants carry out the appropriate maintenance for that plant

As needed (during operation) Wash hands and arms as necessary. Remove build-up of feathers, feet and offal from working areas. Wash floor, walls and equipment with cold, but preferably hot, water which show signs of excessive contamination. Wash down clothes, aprons, knives etc which are covered with blood, faeces etc with cold, but preferably hot, water. Change clothes if necessary. Clear blocked drains (wash hands etc afterwards!). Undertake emergency repairs and maintenance.

At the end of every slaughter session Empty and renew cooling medium (cold water and slush ice coolers only). Remove feathers, feet and offal from working areas. Wash floor, walls and equipment with cold, but preferably hot, water. Clear drains (wash hands etc afterwards!). Wash down clothes, aprons, knives etc with hot or cold water as appropriate. Change clothes if necessary. Wash hands, arms and boots on leaving the room and reentering. Undertake emergency repairs and maintenance.

Daily Staff to leave operational rooms, confine clothes to the laundry bins, take shower, leave the premises. Check that all electrical components and connections are suitably protected from water. Drain water from the dip tank and clean interior with high pressure (preferably steam) hose to remove loose debris and foreign matter. Remove any congealed blood from the blood trough and place in a portable container so that it does not enter the drainage system. Dispose of as recommended in Chapter 2. Clean the blood trough with a high pressure (preferably steam) hose. Clear drains, pick up gross waste with a spade, brush and place in a bucket. Dispose of as described in Chapter 2. Generally wash and clean down plant, equipment and stainless steel surfaces. This should start with washing with cold water from a hose to clear away gross dirt. Surfaces of equipment should be scrubbed with nylon brushes using hot water and soap or detergent. Care must be taken to ensure that all the corners, welds, undersides and backs of equipment undergo this cleaning operation. The building and equipment should then be subject to cleaning with a pressure hose of steam or hot (82C) water with detergent. The structure should then be disinfected by washing with dilute hypochlorite solution. After a suitable contact time (depending on time, temperature and concentration - see manufacturers instructions) the hypochlorite should be rinsed off thoroughly. The building should be left to dry completely as bacteria may grow in the wet pools left behind after rinsing. (Note: the process is called disinfection and not sterilisation, an impossible task in food plants). Care must be taken to ensure that all rooms, including staff facilities, and all areas of these rooms are cleaned. It is very easy to ignore dead corners which are little used but collect debris as a matter of course. Check and adjust all processing machinery in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Inspect the plucking machine and bird washer rubber flails for wear or damage and replace as necessary. Sharpen all knives and cutting edges used in poultry processing. Check refrigeration temperatures to see that they are within company limits for the time of day. Inspect, check and maintain operation of the refrigeration plant in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. Check water storage tank. Check water chlorination levels. Launder the operative's clothes. Inspect the toilets and showers in the staff facilities and manager's rooms to ensure that they were cleaned as part of the routine cleaning of the other operational rooms. Outside, check that the drains and sewers are running freely and clear. Check the operation of the effluent treatment plant. Check that all electrical points, water and gas are switched off. Inspect the plant to make sure that everything is in good serviceable condition, including the operation of scales. Undertake essential repairs and maintenance in preparation for full production the following day. Empty tray of insect electrocutor

Weekly Clean cold stores, when empty. Inspect oil levels in all gearboxes and top up if necessary. Check for leakage in oil seals on all equipment. Check rubber drive belts and chains for wear and tension. Replace/adjust as necessary. Ensure that all moving parts are free and smooth in operation. Free/lubricate/maintain in accordance with manufacturers instructions. Inspect all water, steam and boiler connections for leaks and rectify if necessary. Check operation of high pressure water cleaner. Generally inspect plant for wear and tear and mechanical damage and rectify if necessary. This to include shackles and poultry guides which sometimes need adjustment. Check that all electrical circuits are operational, lights function, fans turn etc. Rectify if necessary. Undertake full repair of equipment and plant for which a temporary repair was effected during operation but requires plant shut-down to complete. Never leave temporary repairs any longer than necessary, they usually interfere with production later. Check operation of water chlorinator and top up chlorine reservoir if necessary. Check stores for supplies of cleaning and packaging materials, and all other consumables. Read utility meters, check fuel levels. Check building for damage to structures eg walls and floors and effect repairs. Examine nesting and resting places for animals, birds, insects and remove. Check that wildlife proofing is intact and rectify if necessary. Check the storm drains for blockage, sand ingress to the building and its services, overgrowth of vegetation, anomalies in the compound, the soundness of the fencing and other security arrangements (lighting, gates etc). Inspect burial pits and arrange for maintenance or renewal if necessary. Undertake staff training, as appropriate, in hygienic operation and its importance to the development of the factory, the industry and the country.

Annually Staff medical.

Disinfectants in Poultry Processing


Healthy chickens ready for processing harbour a tremendous amount and variety of bacteria. These bacteria are present on the surfaces of feet, feathers, skin and also in the intestines. During processing, a high proportion of these organisms will be removed, but further contamination can occur at any stage of the processing operation. The procedure for converting a live, healthy bird into a safe and wholesome poultry product provides many opportunities for micro-organisms to colonise on the surface of the carcase. During the various processing operations, opportunities exist for the contamination of the carcases from the environment, the process in the plant itself, contamination via knives, equipment, the hands of workers and also by cross-contamination from carcase to carcase. Some processing operations encourage an increase of contamination or even multiplication of contaminating organisms. As a result, the microbial population changes from mainly Gram-positive rods and micrococci on the outside of the live chicken to Gram-negative microorganisms on the finished product

Poultry processing has a number of unique features which make control of microbial contamination more difficult than the processing of any other conventional meat animal. Among them is the rapid rate of processing in some processing plants, a condition which favours the spread of micro-organisms. The carcase must be kept whole throughout the process and the viscera have to be removed rapidly through a small opening in the abdomen without breakage, to minimise contamination of the carcase with intestinal organisms. After defeathering, the skin provides a complex surface with many holes which are capable of trapping bacteria

The micro-organisms are widely distributed over the carcases under normal circumstances and are spread over the skin during scalding and defeathering and on the inner and outer surfaces during evisceration and further processing (Bailey et al., 1987). Efforts should be made to prevent the build-up of contamination peaks during processing. Rinsing of the carcases, especially during defeathering and evisceration is therefore of great importance

Spoilage bacteria grow mainly on the skin surfaces, in the feather follicles and on cut muscle surfaces under the skin. The nature and rate of attachment of the micro-organisms depends upon several factors including the bacteria involved and their concentration and also the conditions under which attachment occurs, namely, pH, temperature and contact-time. It was also found that Pseudomonas strains attach to meat surfaces more rapidly than any other bacteria. The structure of the skin also has a crucial influence on attachment of bacteria. The organisms adhere by way of flagella and fimbrae and cannot easily be removed by rinsing, especially after a delay. There is still some disagreement on the role and importance of flagella in the attachment process of bacteria to meat. Research also shows that mesophilic bacteria are more heatresistant when attached to skin than are the same bacteria not attached.

The skin serves as a barrier to micro-organisms that might otherwise contaminate the underlying muscle and therefore the deep muscles are normally free of bacteria (Bryan, 1980; Mead, 1982). The few bacteria found in the deep muscle are of types that can only multiply slowly or not at all at low temperatures. The important microbiological changes take place on the surfaces of the carcases. It appears that some parts of the carcase are more favourable than others for bacterial growth, depending on the type of muscle and pH. Studies conducted over the last few years show that the sites most heavily contaminated are the neck skin and less frequently on the back and the area around the vent. Fewer organisms are found around the breast, legs and under the wings. Acinetobacter and Alteromonas grow better in leg muscle where pH is 6.4 to 6.7 than in breast muscle where pH is 5.7 to 5.9. Pseudomonas spp. can grow well at both pH ranges (Patterson, 1972; Barnes et al., 1973; Green, 1974; McMeekin et al., 1979a; Bryan, 1980; Thomas et al., 1981; Mead, 1982; Gill, 1983; Grau, 1986; Anand et al., 1989). The presumable reason for the neck skin being the most heavily contaminated is that the washings from the rest of the carcase run down the neck while the carcase hangs on the conveyor

Influence of processing on poultry The main operations in processing poultry are as follows: birds are removed from crates, hung by the feet on shackles on a conveyor, stunned by a low voltage electric shock in a water bath and killed by exsanguination following slitting of the neck and severing the carotid arteries. They are then scalded, defeathered and washed. Heads, feet and the viscera are removed. The carcases are then washed and chilled in cold water or in humidified air. After chilling, the carcases are further processed or packaged and stored chilled or frozen (Fig. 1.1) (McMeekin et al., 1979; Bailey et al., 1987; Bryan, 1980, Mead, 1982; Grau, 1986). During each stage of the process, opportunity exists for the contamination of the carcases with micro-organisms from the environment of the poultry processing plant or by crosscontamination from other birds (McMeekin et al., 1979). Numbers of bacteria on carcase surfaces vary considerably at different stages of processing and increases and decreases in numbers have been demonstrated (Thomas et al., 1980). Defeathering and evisceration are the two stages where bacterial contamination mostly takes place

Pre-slaughter handling and transportation For transportation to the processing plant, birds are usually caged in batches. However, stress caused by transport, crowding and exposure to weather conditions may lead to an increased frequency of defecation and discharge of ceacal contents (Grau, 1986; Mead,1982; Parry, 1989). In the little space available, birds tend to stand in an accumulation of their own droppings. Cages with solid floors used during transportation enable birds to sit in accumulated droppings. On the other hand, cages with perforated floors allow birds at higher levels to contaminate birds at lower levels (Mead, 1982; Grau, 1986; Mead, 1989). There is evidence that stress occurring during transportation can increase theproportion of birds which are intestinal carriers of Salmonella (Mead, 1982). It is therefore usual to starve birds before slaughter in order to minimise faecal contamination of carcases during transportation and processing (Anand et al., 1989; Mead, 1989). During unloading, it is inevitable that some birds will struggle and flap their wings as they are hung on the shackles, and this results in a considerable scattering of dust and micro-organisms. The only effective control in preventing the spread of airborne contaminants is the complete separation of this area from the rest of the processing plant

Scalding Carcases are scalded to loosen the feathers by immersion in a hot water tank, at either 50 - 52C (soft scalding) or at 56C to 60C (hard scalding) (Bailey et al., 1987; Mead, 1989). During scalding micro-organisms on the skin and feathers and in the faeces of the birds are washed from the birds and continually released into the water of the scald tank. Aerobic plate counts of scald water however, are usually less than 5x104 cfu ml-1 of scald water (Mulder et al., 1974; Bryan, 1980). The survival of Enterobacteriaceae and mesophiles is higher at low scald temperatures of 50C to 54C than at higher temperatures (Grau, 1986; Anand et al., 1989). At a scald temperature of 61C, reductions of more than 1000-fold can be obtained, whereas at scald temperatures of53C to 55,5C the counts are reduced by 10 to 100-fold (McBride et al., 1980; Notermans et al., 1980; Grau, 1986). The accumulation and survival of micro-organisms in the scald tank during processing is influenced by the temperature of scalding and the rate at which fresh water is added (Mead, 1982; Bryan, 1986; Bailey et al., 1987). The great reduction in counts during scalding and the absence of Pseudomonas indicate that scald water contamination plays a relative minor role in spoilage of chicken carcases(Bailey et al., 1987). Scald temperatures have little effect on the spores of Clostridium perfringens in the water (Mead, 1982; Bailey et al., 1987). Evidence also indicates that the shelf-life of carcases is reduced by scalding at temperatures above 58C. This can be attributed to the fact that scalding at about 58C - 60C (hard scalding) and above, followed by mechanical plucking results in removal of the outer epidermal layer (cuticle),whereas scalding at 52C - 53C (soft scalding) does not. The cuticle free skin of the carcases serves as a more suitable substrate for spoilage organisms and in particular Pseudomonas

Defeathering During defeathering there is a considerable scattering of micro-organisms from carcase to carcase and also from the defeathering equipment itself. The warm, moist conditions under which these operations take place also favour microbial growth. There are two aspects to the contaminating effect of defeathering. One arises from the extensive aerial scattering of micro-organisms in the vicinity of the machines, and is due to their mechanical action (Mead, 1989). It is therefore necessary to ensure complete separation of the plucking and scalding area from the clean areas of processing (Zottola et al., 1990; Mead, 1989). The other aspect of defeathering hygiene is the nature of the machines themselves, and their siting next to the scald tank, which helps to maintain a warm moistenvironment suitable for microbial growth. The rubber "fingers" used to remove the feathers harbour micro-organisms and are not easily cleaned and disinfected (Mead,1982; Grau, 1986). Micro-organisms can persist in cracks and other imperfections even after vigorous cleaning (Gibbs et al., 1978; Grau, 1986). Up to 106 Staphylococcusaureus cm-2 can be found on the rubber "fingers" of defeathering machines and treatment with 100ppm chlorine for 30min may reduce the counts by only ca. tenfold (Gibbs et al., 1978). The counts of both aerobic mesophiles and psychrotrophs on poultry skin can increase during defeathering and also the numbers of Enterobacteriaceae (Lahellec et al., 1979; Thomas et al., 1980). Salmonella are also more frequently isolated from carcases after defeathering, than following any other processing operation (McBride et al., 1980). Following a hot or hard scalding, defeathering damages and removes the epidermal layer and exposes a new surface layer. This cuticle-free skin serves as a very suitable substrate for spoilage organisms and the organisms become trapped in the skin follicles and folds

Evisceration During evisceration the opportunity exists for contamination with Enterobacteriaceae from the intestinal contents. Careless manual opening of the body cavities and manual evisceration leads to contamination of carcases, especially when the intestines are cut or the vent is inadequately loosened. Cross-contamination can also occur due to workers' hands, evisceration implements and other slaughter equipment (Mead, 1982; Grau, 1986; Mead, 1989). No difference was found between plants using manual evisceration and those with automatic equipment, although automatic evisceration can cause considerable damage to carcases due to rupturing of the intestines when carcases in a particular batch varies in size (Mead, 1989). Aerobic mesophiles on the carcases usually do not increase significantly during evisceration, but the numbers of Enterobacteriaceae and the frequency of contamination with Salmonella often increase (Notermans et al., 1980; Grau, 1986). Significant contamination with Staphylococcus aureus can occur even though Staphylococcus aureus is not detected in the intestinal tract. This contamination comes from sources other than the bird and the contaminating strains also appear to be endemic to the processing plant (Notermans et al., 1982). Washing of carcases after evisceration and before chilling removes organic matter and some of the micro-organisms acquired during evisceration. The visceral cavities also become contaminated during evisceration, especially when the intestines are cut and it is less easily reached by washing with conventional washing equipment (Notermans et al., 1980; Mead, 1982; Connor et al., 1987; Jones et al., 1991). However, strategically sited spray-washers with high-pressure and the use of water containing at least 40ppm available chlorine are effective in reducing the number of bacteria and 70ppm chlorine almost totally eliminated build-up of bacteria (Notermans et al., 1980; Bailey et al., 1987; Mead, 1989).

Chiller Water Disinfection Management Practices In this step, eviscerated and defeathered carcasses are dropped into an immersion chiller, which rapidly chills the carcasses to 40 F or below and inhibits microbial growth. To further ensure food safety, processors add chlorine or other chemicals to disinfect and sanitize the chiller water.

, measures chiller water free chlorine levels as part of a concentration change case study.

Chilling In many processing plants, the rate of processing is such that there is little loss of heat from the carcases before if reaches the chilling stage. The deep muscle temperature of the freshly eviscerated carcases is "30C and to prevent and limit the growth of spoilage bacteria and pathogens it is necessary that the carcases must be chilled rapidly and efficiently after evisceration to a keep temperature of below 10C (McMeekin et al.a, 1979; Eustace, 1981; Mead, 1989). Two methods of chilling are in common use, one involving dry chilling in cold air and the other immersion of carcases in ice-chilled water (Mead, 1982; Mead, 1989). Continuous immersion chilling is the most widely used method and comprises one or more units, each consisting of a large tank capable of holding many hundreds of carcases, through which water flows continuously. The water can flow with or against the direction taken by the carcases (Bryan, 1980; Mead, 1982). In through-flow systems carcases move in the same direction as the water flow, whereas in counter-flow chillers the birds are moved mechanically in the opposite direction to the flow of in-coming water (Mead, 1982). Hygienic operation of immersion chillers requires measures to prevent a build-up of microbial contaminants in the cooling medium and this depends on the water usage and temperature control. Adequate use of fresh water aids the cooling process and prevents the chiller temperature from reaching a point when bacterial growth becomes a problem (Mead, 1989). The water temperature at the carcase entry and exit points must not exceed 16C and 4C respectively (Mead, 1982). Counter-flow immersion chilling (in which carcases at the end of the chilling process come into contact with the cleanest water) effectively decreases counts on carcases and minimises cross-contamination (Bryan, 1980). Air-chilling, whether as a batch process in a chill room or by continuous air-blast, requires the use of low scald temperatures of ca. 50C. This is to avoid skin damage and colour change of the carcases (Bryan, 1980; Mead, 1989). Air-chilled carcases are always likely to have higher bacterial counts than those chilled in properly controlled immersion systems. Several studies have confirmed this supposition, although the differences are relatively small and usually less than 10-fold (Mead, 1989). Air-chilling is less likely to cause crosscontamination than water immersion, but micro-organisms may circulate in the currents of cold air and usually there is some degree of contact between individual birds in the chiller (Bryan, 1980; Mead, 1989).

Post-chilling handling Bacterial counts can increase after chilling, because of the transfer of micro-organisms during weighing and packaging. Even at this stage contamination with salmonellas can occur and therefore, the final product should be frozen or transferred to a chill store without delay

Applications and sample collection


Pre-evisceration spray application: During this application, chicken carcases were sprayed with 100 ml of a 1:10 Anolyte solution. Post-evisceration spray application: During this application, chicken carcases were sprayed with 1000 ml of a 1:10 Anolyte solution. Spinchiller application: Chicken carcases were submerged in a 1:10 Anolyte solution at 10C for 30 min. Catholyte scalding application: Feathered chickens were submerged in a 100 % Catholyte solution for 7 min at a temperature of 54C + 2C.

What is the first step in a cleaning and disinfection program? The first step in any cleaning and disinfection program is cleaning. Cleaning is the physical removal of organic material (i.e., manure, blood, feed, and carcasses). It is important to remove these organic materials before the disinfection process begins because disease agents are often protected in these materials and can survive the disinfection process. Hence, it is important to thoroughly clean a building before the disinfection process. The cleaning process can include a dry cleaning and a wet cleaning step.

What are the differences between dry cleaning and wet cleaning? Dry cleaning involves the physical removal of organic material, such as the removal of feed, litter, and manure. The process of dry cleaning physically removes the organic material before the actual wet cleaning can occur. Wet cleaning, as its name implies, involves the use of water. There are four basic steps in the wet cleaning process soaking, washing, rinsing, and drying. Although not necessary, detergents (wetting agents) can be used in the wet cleaning process. However, it is more important to have pressure washers with the proper pressure (500-800 psi) to ensure all the organic materials are removed from the facilities. The final step of ensuring a proper clean-up is having the wet areas of the building dried quickly. If the building is not dried properly, the excess moisture can result in bacteria multiplying to higher levels than seen before cleaning. Thus, if you are going to clean, make sure the cleaning procedure is done properly, as an improper cleaning can actually do more harm than good! If done properly, a good cleaning can remove 90% of the pathogens.

What do I do after cleaning? The last step in a cleaning and disinfection program is the disinfection process. This process involves the use of a disinfectant that will reduce or kill the pathogens. There are several types of disinfectants, and the one chosen should be effective against the disease agent(s) you are targeting. What are the main types of disinfectants that can be used? The main types of disinfectants that can be used are: aldehydes (i.e., formalin, formaldehyde, and glutaraldehyde) chlorine-releasing agents (i.e., sodium hypochlorite, chlorine dioxide, sodium dichloroisocyanurate, and chloramine-T) iodophors (i.e., povidone-iodine and poloxamer-iodine) phenols and bis-phenols (i.e., triclosan and hexachlorophene) quaternary ammonium compounds peroxygens (i.e., hydrogen peroxide and peracetic acid). Aldehydes, like formalin and formaldehyde, are considered sterilants, are carcinogenic, and require special precautions. Peroxygens, at the recommended dilution for their use, are caustic and dangerous. Some of the newer formulations of peroxygens and peracetic acid compounds are becoming more utilized because of the European foot-and-mouth disease outbreaks in 2001. Some of these compounds are considered non-irritants and are approved for specific uses. It is suggested that one should always follow the recommended usage provided by the manufacturer.

How susceptible are the disease-causing agents to various disinfectants? Disinfectants are effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Disinfectants were not designed to be effective against parasites. In general, the descending order of resistance of disease agents is: spores (i.e., clostrial diseases like botulism) and acid-fast bacteria (i.e., mycobacteria like Mycobacterium avium [avian tuberculosis]) gram-negative bacteria (i.e., Pseudomonas, E. coli, Salmonella) fungi (i.e., Candida [crop mycosis] and Aspergillus [aspergillosis]) non-enveloped viruses (i.e., enteroviruses and adenoviruses) gram-positive bacteria (i.e., Staphylococcus aureus) lipid enveloped viruses (i.e., avian influenza virus). Thus, spore-forming bacteria are harder to destroy by disinfectants than viruses. Table 1 illustrates the effectiveness of the different disinfectant groups against the various classes of avian pathogens. Avian parasites (i.e., lice, mites, and endoparasites) are best treated using insecticides or by means of parasiticides. However, it has been reported that ammonia and phenolic disinfectants have been effective in reducing the numbers of coccidial oocysts.

How susceptible are the disease-causing agents to various disinfectants? Disinfectants are effective against bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Disinfectants were not designed to be effective against parasites. In general, the descending order of resistance of disease agents is: spores (i.e., clostrial diseases like botulism) and acid-fast bacteria (i.e., mycobacteria like Mycobacterium avium [avian tuberculosis]) gram-negative bacteria (i.e., Pseudomonas, E. coli, Salmonella) fungi (i.e., Candida [crop mycosis] and Aspergillus [aspergillosis]) non-enveloped viruses (i.e., enteroviruses and adenoviruses) gram-positive bacteria (i.e., Staphylococcus aureus) lipid enveloped viruses (i.e., avian influenza virus). Thus, spore-forming bacteria are harder to destroy by disinfectants than viruses. Table 1 illustrates the effectiveness of the different disinfectant groups against the various classes of avian pathogens. Avian parasites (i.e., lice, mites, and endoparasites) are best treated using insecticides or by means of parasiticides. However, it has been reported that ammonia and phenolic disinfectants have been effective in reducing the numbers of coccidial oocysts.

Table 1. The advantages and disadvantages of sodium hypochlorite use in poultry processing Advantages Low cost Familiar proven technology Relatively non-toxic Wide germicidal activity Effective at low concentrations Bacteria cannot become resistant Kills bacteria in more than one way Disadvantages Activity greatly influenced by pH (optimum is below 6.5) Irritating agent Inactivated by organic matter Less active at low temperature Carcinogenic by-products Highly corrosive Carcasses treated with chlorine not accepted by Canada and Europe

Chlorine dioxide is an effective disinfectant that offers an alternative to the standard chlorine that is used within poultry processing in carcass washing applications. Properties of Chlorine Dioxide. Chlorine Dioxide is a powerful oxidizing agent and biocide, with broad spectrum efficacy against bacteria, fungi, algae, viruses and protozoa. The basic properties of chlorine dioxide that differentiate it from other oxidizing biocides/disinfectants are: Chlorine dioxide possesses broad spectrum anti-microbial capabilities. Chlorine dioxide is not sensitive to system pH. . Chlorine dioxide is very specific and enters into only a few side reactions when compared with chlorine, it does not chlorinate organics, therefore it does not form THMs. Provides a residual disinfectant level. Chlorine dioxide is significantly less corrosive than chlorine. Approved by the EPA for drinking water disinfection Chlorine dioxide is 100 1000 times more effective at removing/preventing biofilm than chlorine.

Chlorine Dioxide Applications Within Poultry Processing.


Poultry Processing Flow Diagram. Unloading and shackling Stunning Bleeding Scalding Plucking Evisceration Carcass Wash Chilling (Spin Chilled / Air Chilled) Sorting Packaging.

The main problem is to control cross-contamination. Contamination of carcasses can occur via contact with soiled surfaces, equipment or the hands of operatives. Microorganisms can also be spread in airborne dust particles and droplets and through any rupture of the intestines during evisceration. Chlorine dioxide is best dosed at the various unit processes to act as a break in contamination thereby reducing/eliminating cross contamination as well as removing superficial microoragnisms before they have an opportunity to become attached and penetrate the carcass.

The typical/possible applications are: Maintenance of a low residual in the scalding tank (0.5ppm). Carcass Sprays. Spin chillers.

Case Study 1: The evaluation was undertaken at a large poultry processor in South Africa, with the microbiological evaluation of the carcasses undertaken Description of Evaluation: Chlorine dioxide was compared to gaseous chlorine. Chlorine dioxide was substituted for chlorine in the inside-outside washer after evisceration. All other processing was the same for both chlorine and chlorine dioxide. The whole carcasses were collected once they had been air chilled and packaged. Chlorine was between 75 100 ppm, and chlorine dioxide was dosed at 3 ppm. Results: Product A = Chlorine. Product B = Chlorine Dioxide.

Discussion: The outcome of the case study is that chlorine dioxide at 3 ppm has the same efficacy as chlorine at 75 ppm.

Case Study 2.

This study was an in house evaluation undertaken by a separate large poultry processor using EOXIDE LQ 75

Description of Evaluation: The trail was run for a duration of one week. Chlorine dioxide was injected into the chilled water at 3 ppm. T

Results: Samples were taken daily, and averaged for the week and compared to the average for chlorine.

Discussion: As is evident there is no significant difference between the two chemicals.

Chlorine Chlorine Dioxide

Coliform Counts 632 793

E.coli Counts 447 540

Staph Counts. 623 590

Legislative Summary United States: Food and Drug Administration amendment to 21 CFR Part 173 to provide for the safe use of chlorine dioxide as an antimicrobial agent in water used in poultry processing up to 3ppm. European Union: Directive 93/43/EEC states that water used in food production must be of quality for human consumption. This implements Council Directive 80/778/EEC on the quality of water for human consumption, where it relates to water used in food production, where chlorine dioxide is approved for use at 0.5 ppm (the washing of poultry and meat carcasses with 75 ppm of chlorine dioxide is no longer allowed, chlorine is only permitted for use at drinking water levels).

Here is a TwinOxide dosage guideline for your kind perusal 1. Chiller 10ppm start at this level we may be able to run lower but need to make sure of residual levels of 3ppm. 2. Fogging 50ppm to 100 dependant on micro issues present before fogging starts. 3. Carcass washing 10 -15ppm this is spraying the outside of the chicken, as with all of our current business. 4. Cleaning and disinfectant 10ppm to 15ppm for sanitising hard surfaces. 5. Poultry drinking water 2ppm as a start to clean up then wind back to 0.5ppm for the on-going maintenance dose rate aim is 0.5ppm residual.