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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service


Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

2007 Annual Report

1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
Develop, test, and prototype rapid optical systems and methods to detect food contaminants, particularly contaminants found in the poultry industry such as fecal contaminants on poultry carcasses. Develop optical systems to detect intentional and unintentional biological, physical, and chemical contamination of food products.

1b.Approach (from AD-416)
A real-time on-line fecal detection system, which consists of a multispectral imaging camera, lighting, and detection algorithm, will be prototyped. Multispectral and hyperspectral imaging systems will be used to identify physical hazards in poultry meat. Hyperspectral imaging in transmission mode will be used with structured lighting to identify embedded bones in breast filets. Hyperspectral imaging will also be used with white and brown shell eggs to identify both internal defects such as blood spots, meat spots, and bacterial contamination, and external defects such as fecal matter on shells and cracked shells. Hyperspectral imaging systems will be also be used to identify bacterial and chemical agents in meat and meat products. Collaboration with ARS Instrumentation and Sensing Laboratory, BARC, FSIS, and the University of Georgia Biological and Agricultural Engineering Department will be used to aid and enhance the research.

3.Progress Report
Egg Fertility There is a need to non-destructively detect the fertility of broiler eggs as early as possible. Preliminary experiments indicate that we could predict embryo development after day one with hyperspectral imaging. A more comprehensive experiment on both fertile and infertile eggs showed that fertility can be predicted at day three. The technique has potential to increase hatching efficiency and reduce the possibility of having infected, infertile eggs exploding in the hatching cabinet. Additional experiments are needed to predict fertility even earlier. Handheld multispectral imaging system A visible/near-infrared three-band handheld imaging system for poultry safety inspection was developed with improved optical design and system calibration algorithm. The new design has easy access to the filters allowing the system to be retrofitted for a variety of applications. This is an advantage because of the flexibility in selecting spectral wavelengths, especially when compared to other commercial multispectral imaging systems that integrate filters and sensors as a fixed module. Furthermore, the image quality, in terms of the spectral consistency, was greatly improved because the new filters are placed closer to each detector. Calibration algorithm development The new handheld imaging system was tested along with a newly developed calibration algorithm that corrects image-to-image offset error. The new algorithm calibrates the system based on a pixel-to-pixel projection map that statistically interpolates the offset error of two images at each pixel. The statistical map-based algorithm consistently perform well for image registration (less than one pixel error) regardless the distance and lens configuration. Nanotechnology for foodborne pathogen detection We used nanotechnology to develop a method for Salmonella detection using a gold/silicon nanorod-based biosensor. A silicon nanorod array was fabricated by the glancing-angle deposition method and a thin layer of gold was sputtered onto the tips of the silicon nanorods. Fluorescent organic dye molecules and Salmonella antibodies were selectively immobilized onto the side walls of silicon nanorods and the gold-plated tip, respectively. Due to the high aspect-ratio nature of the silicon nanorods, hundreds or even thousands of dye molecules are attached to each silicon nanorod which results in a strongly enhanced fluorescence signal. These biologically functionalized hetero-nanorods have been successfully used to detect Salmonella. This nanotechnology detection method will have great potential for food safety and security. Micro-Crack Detection for Table Eggs The Agricultural Marketing Service needs a system to help graders locate micro-cracks in table eggs that are missed with current grading techniques. We have developed a camera based 15-egg batch-process system that can detect micro-cracks. The system will help the graders to more accurately grade table eggs and reduce the number of checked/cracked eggs entering the market place. Since a crack in the egg shell is a potential avenue for pathogen entering the egg, removing these eggs should improve the safety of table eggs.

Bone Detection Bones in boneless poultry filets are still one of the largest food safety issues affecting the poultry industry. We have developed a method to detect clavical bones in breast filets with an imaging system and structured back lighting. The technique requires image to be taken of both sides of the filets and for the filet to be compress to a uniform thickness, which can be accomplished with a forming machine. (Bone detection falls generally under 1.2: Pathogen, Toxins, and chemical contaminants postharvest, and specifically under 1.2.2: [On-line] sensing systems that assist processing, and have application in food security in the 2006-2010 NP 108 Action Plan.)

5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations

6.Technology Transfer

Number of active CRADAs and MTAs2
Number of non-peer reviewed presentations and proceedings28
Number of newspaper articles and other presentations for non-science audiences1

Review Publications
Lawrence, K.C., Smith, D.P., Windham, W.R., Heitschmidt, G.W., Park, B., Yoon, S.C. 2007. Egg embryo development detection with hyperspectral imaging. International Journal of Poultry Science. 5(10): 964-969

Smith, D.P., Northcutt, J.K., Cason Jr, J.A., Hinton Jr, A., Buhr, R.J., Ingram, K.D. 2007. Effect of External or Internal Fecal Contamination on Numbers of Bacteria on Pre-Chill Broiler Carcasses. Poultry Science. 86:1241-1244.

Yoon, S.C., Lawrence, K.C., Park, B., Windham, W.R. 2007. Optimization of fecal detection using hyperspectral imaging and kernel density estimation. Transactions of the ASABE. 50(3): 1063-1071

Northcutt, J.K., Cason Jr, J.A., Smith, D.P., Buhr, R.J., Fletcher, D.L. 2006. Broiler carcass bacterial counts after immersion chilling using either a low or high volume of water. Poultry Science. 85:1802-1806.

Hinton Jr, A., Northcutt, J.K., Smith, D.P., Musgrove, M.T., Ingram, K.D. 2006. Spoilage microflora of broiler carcasses washed with electrolyzed oxidizing water or chlorinated water using an inside-outside bird washer. Poultry Science. 86:123-127.

Smith, D.P., Cason Jr, J.A., Fletcher, D.L., Hannah, J.F. 2007. Evaluation of carcass scraping to enumerate bacteria on pre-chill broiler carcasses. Poultry Science. 86:1436-1439.

Last Modified: 4/20/2014
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