System Detects Contaminants on Poultry
September 11, 2003
Food processors strive to detect
contamination before it reaches consumers--an important part of keeping the
food supply safe.
Agricultural Research Service
scientists in Athens, Ga., have been granted a patent on an imaging system that
detects contaminants on food surfaces. Using a real-time imaging system in the
processing plant, researchers Bob Windham, Kurt Lawrence, Bosoon Park and Doug
Smith in the ARS Poultry Processing and
Meat Quality Research Unit were able to detect feces and recently ingested
materials on animal carcasses with 100-percent accuracy. Other collaborators
include researchers at the University of
Georgia and at ProVision Technologies Division, part of the Institute of
Technology Development, located in Stennis
Space Center, Miss.
The system uses hyperspectral imaging to scan the surface of a poultry
carcass, locating hard-to-detect material such as small particles or those in
shadowed areas. This detection system could more reliably detect potential food
safety contaminants, thus reducing processing delays and saving processors
The system has the potential for use in many processing situations for the
detection of surface contaminants but has been tested only on poultry at the
Richard B. Russell Research Center in Athens. Because the system is expected to
work with other animal carcasses, a broad patent application has been filed
covering a wide range of poultry and meat products.
An on-line prototype was used to test the system that operates at 140 birds
per minute, approximating the processing speeds used in U.S. poultry plants.
The researchers expect the system to work at 180 birds per minute, the maximum
European line speed, but have no data at this time to predict its efficacy at
A cooperative research and development agreement was established with
Stork Gamco Inc.,
Gainesville, Ga., to develop and test a prototype on-line system.
ARS is the chief scientific research agency of the
U.S. Department of Agriculture.