Agricultural engineers Kuanglin Chao (left) and
Yud-Ren Chen discuss poultry carcass images taken with a multispectral imaging
system. Click image for additional information.
Poultry Inspection Goes On Line
By Don Comis
October 15, 2003
The Automatic Poultry Inspection
System developed by Agricultural Research
Service scientists is ready for its first long-term testing in commercial
processing plants, having just successfully passed a four-day test in a
commercial broiler-processing plant. The recent test was done at speeds of 140
to 180 birds per minute (bpm), double previous tested speeds--on the fastest
line, just after the carcasses are defeathered.
The system has been tested at various commercial processing plants during
the past decade.
For the latest test, Yud-Ren Chen, an agricultural engineer at the ARS
Sensing Laboratory in Beltsville, Md., and colleagues took their inspection
equipment to a commercial processing facility. The test was done in cooperation
with Stork-Gamco, Inc., of Gainesville, Ga., one of the world's largest
chicken-processing plant equipment manufacturers. The Automatic Poultry
Inspection System had an accuracy rate of 92 to 95 percent, which was verified
by a USDA veterinary medical officer.
ARS has a cooperative research and development agreement with Stork-Gamco to
commercialize Chen's system and move it into use among the nation's 300-plus
poultry processing plants. The system quickly diagnoses all physical or
nonmicrobial, biological conditions that cause an inspector to remove a chicken
from the processing line.
In Chen's system, when a chicken carcass--on a hook dangling from a moving
chain--passes through a light beam, the interruption triggers a scan with a
light probe from about an inch away.
The reflected light is analyzed by a computer using ARS-developed
"Automated Poultry Inspector" software to identify variations in
external skin color and texture and tissue composition, which are clues to
A second system will be tested in the near future. It uses a digital
spectral camera to photograph, with a single click, each chicken at three
specially selected light wavelengths.
ARS is USDA's chief scientific research agency.