A new, state-of-the-art, pilot processing facility has
been constructed in Athens, Georgia, under the watchful eyes of food
technologist Clyde E. Lyon and agricultural engineer J. Andra Dickens.
The new facility allows researchers in the Poultry Processing and Meat
Quality Research Unit at the Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research
Center to design projects with protocols that cannot be tested in inspected,
commercial facilities. It also allows researchers to process birds under
conditions as close to commercial as possible, ensuring that food safety
and food quality related research will be commercially feasible.
"The pilot plant, from conception to completion,
took about 18 months, with construction modifications and equipment
installation taking about a year," says Dickens. "The equipment
was obtained from Simmons Engineering and Stork-Gamco, Inc., and other
pieces were specially made."
The facility's evisceration line can be run at commercial
speeds up to 180 birds per minute. Since September 2002, when the facility
opened, the research group has completed two large-scale processing
projects as well as several other projects that have used one or more
pieces of the new equipment.
The facility was designed and constructed to allow installation
of prototype imaging equipment and technology to detect fecal contamination
on processed carcasses. As this technology is refined and readied for
commercial testing, the pilot facility will give the researchers a good
"There can be many differences between research testing
and pilot plant testing. By being able to tweak new technology in a
pilot situation, we can save a lot of time and money," explains
Dickens. And they can demonstrate to industry members that the findings
can be commercially applicable, where appropriate.
Food technologist Julie Northcutt is using the facility
to test her research findings that may dramatically reduce the amount
of water used in broiler processing plants. This would pose significant
savings for the industry.By Sharon
Durham, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.
Dickens and Clyde
E. Lyon are in the USDA-ARS Poultry
Processing and Meat Quality Research Unit, Richard B. Russell Agricultural
Research Center, 950 College Station Road, Athens, GA 30605; phone (706)
546-3205 [Dickens], (706) 546-3418 [Lyon], fax (706) 546-3633.
"Chicken Processing Plant Geared Up for Business"
was published in the February
2004 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.