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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics

Research Project: PATHOGEN REDUCTION AND OPTIMIZATION OF WATER USAGE IN POULTRY PROCESSING OPERATIONS

Location: Poultry Processing and Swine Physiology Research

2008 Annual Report


1a.Objectives (from AD-416)
1) Develop and analyze poultry processing methods that utilize electrolyzed water and antimicrobial fatty acids as microbiocides to decrease microbial contamination during poultry processing. 2) Develop innovative processing operations and recommend modifications in existing processing operations to decrease water use in commercial poultry processing. 3) Evaluate the movement of microorganisms from broiler carcasses to processing water and equipment, specifically scalders, eviscerators and chillers.


1b.Approach (from AD-416)
Alternative antimicrobial treatments such as electrolyzed water, salts of fatty acids, peroxyacetic acid, blends of organic acids, chlorine dioxide, monochloramines, cetylpyridinium chloride and ozone will be evaluated for activity against poultry pathogens and spoilage bacteria. Optimum conditions for applying antimicrobials, including concentration and methods (spray or immersion), will be identified. Treatments with the greatest efficacy against poultry pathogens will be tested further during immersion chilling with reduced water volumes or air chilling. Carcass cross-contamination and procedures of preventing cross-contamination will be determined by focusing experiments on three of the processing areas where the transfer of bacteria is greatest (scalding, defeathering and equipment surfaces). Experiments will also evaluate product contact surfaces as a source of cross-contamination. Partitioning experiments will be performed to separate pathogens on the exterior of the bird from those interior. Cross-contamination will be minimized by using antimicrobial treatments tested in subsequent experiments. Research will be transferred to processing and regulatory personnel for implementation into Sanitation Standard Operating Procedures (SSOPs) and Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System (HACCP) plans.


3.Progress Report
This research is relevant to Food Safety National Program (NP 108) Action Plan, Component 1.1: Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants-Preharvest, and Component 1.2: Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants-Postharvest. Research was conducted to examine the ability of various sanitizers to decrease the number of bacteria on the skin of processed broiler carcasses. Whole broiler carcasses were washed in solutions of potassium hydroxide and lauric acid and the number of bacteria remaining on the carcasses was determined. In other studies, the ability of solutions of salicylic acid to reduce the number of bacteria on skin from processed broilers was determined. Both of these substances reduced the number of bacteria found on broiler carcasses and on the skin of broiler carcasses. These compounds are being examined as alternatives to chlorine, which is widely used as a sanitizer in commercial poultry processing facilities. Research was also conducted examine the spread of undesirable microorganisms on carcasses and in scalder water during poultry processing. Contamination of chicken carcasses from taken from scald water tanks in two commercial processing facilities was determined. Findings showed that some bacteria are able to survive the hot temperatures of hot water in scalding tanks, and these bacteria may also be found on carcasses and in foam floating on the surface of water in the scald tanks. Additional research showed that processed broiler carcasses have higher levels of external E. coli than internal E. coli, while these carcasses may also contain higher levels of Campylobacter internally than externally. Bacteria carried into the processing facility on the inside or outside of the carcass can be found in the scald water and may then be transferred to later phases of poultry processing.


4.Accomplishments
1. Bacteria Recovered from Broiler Carcasses Washed in Mixtures of Potassium Hydroxide and Lauric Acid Eviscerated broiler carcasses were obtained from a commercial processing facility. Whole carcasses were washed in solutions of containing potassium hydroxide and lauric acid. After 3 successive washes in these solutions, fewer total bacteria, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli were recovered from carcasses washed in these mixtures than from carcasses washed in distilled water. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology, Problem Statement 1.2.4 Processing Intervention Strategies).

2. Sampling of Broiler Chicken Carcasses for External and Internal Bacteria Sampling of chicken carcasses immediately before and after defeathering showed high levels of external Escherichia coli and internal Campylobacter. Defeathering reduced the number of E. coli, but increased the number of Campylobacter recovered from carcass rinsates. Salmonella prevalence and numbers in samples were lower than in previous sampling of flocks that had a higher incidence of cecal colonization. Findings indicate evidence that control of Salmonella colonization at the farm is a major influence on Salmonella contamination in the processing plant. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.1: Detection and Validation, Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology).

3. Bactericidal Activity of Salicylic Acid towards Bacteria Found on the Skin of Processed Poultry Breast skin was taken from broiler carcasses obtained from a commercial poultry processing facility. Skin was washed for five consecutive times in solutions of salicylic acid. Fewer total bacteria, staphylococci, enteric bacteria, lactic acid bacteria, and anaerobic bacteria were recovered from skin washed in distilled water than from skin washed in solutions of salicylic acid. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology, Problem Statement 1.2.4 Processing Intervention Strategies).

4. Sampling of Broiler Chickens and Scalder Water for Indications of Cross-contamination Sampling of broiler chicken carcasses and water from scald tanks on two slaughter lines indicated that large numbers of Enterobacteriaceae including Escherichia coli and Salmonella survive in scald tanks despite the high water temperature. Transfer of bacteria via scald water and foam may contribute to microbiological contamination of broiler carcasses. Further typing of isolates will provide more information about possible cross-contamination. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants— Problem Statement: 1.2.1 Detection and Validation, Postharvest Problem Statement: 1.2.3 Production and Processing Ecology).

5. Microbiology of Broiler Carcasses and Water from a Chill Tank that Uses Recycled Water Broiler carcasses and chill tank water were taken from a commercial processing facility that had recently installed a chiller system that conserves water by utilizing a mixture of recycled water and fresh water in carcass chiller tank. Prechilled and chilled carcasses and chiller water from various sections of the chiller were examined for the presence of Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli. Findings indicate that the number of E. coli and Campylobacter were reduced in all samples and there was no change in the number of Salmonella recovered from carcasses chilled in reused water. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology).

6. Microbiology of Broiler Carcasses Spray-Washed with Acidified Electrolyzed Water or Chlorine Broiler carcasses were sprayed for 5, 10, or 15 sec with solutions of electrolyzed water or chlorine, and the number of total aerobic bacteria, Escherichia coli, Salmonella, and Campylobacter present on the washed carcasses was determined. The study showed that electrolyzed water was more efficient in reducing bacterial contamination of broiler carcasses than chlorine solutions. Better results were obtained by washing the carcasses for 10 seconds than by washing the carcasses for 5 or 15 sec. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest, Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology, Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.4: Processing Intervention Strategies).

7. Recovery of Bacteria from Carcasses after Immersion Chilling in Different Volumes of Water Broiler carcasses were obtained from a commercial processing facility. Carcasses were cut in half, and halves were chilled in low or high volumes of water. Chilled carcass halves were examined for the number of total aerobic bacteria, Escherichia coli, Enterobacteriaceae, and Campylobacter. Results of the experiments indicated that increasing the volume of chill water produced no difference in the number of bacteria recovered from the carcasses. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology).

8. Reusing Processing Water in Turkey Processing Facilities A survey of turkey processing facilities was conducted to determine the amount of fresh water, recycled water, and sanitizers used during commercial turkey processing operations in the United States. Data from facilities that responded to the survey indicated that water use during processing had increased since the implementation of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point program. Chlorine was the primary antimicrobial agent used by the facilities during processing. Few of the facilities indicated that they recycled water during their operations. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology).

9. Bacteria Isolated from Shell Eggs Collected during Commercial Processing Eggs were collected from 3 egg processing facilities and bacteria on the eggs shells were enumerated and identified. Bacteria normally associated with intestinal contents were the highest number of bacteria associated with the egg shells. Fewer bacteria were recovered from unwashed eggs than from washed eggs. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology).

10. Identification of Yeasts Isolated from Eggs Stored at Refrigerated Temperatures Washed and unwashed eggs were obtained from a commercial egg processing facility and stored for 10 weeks at refrigeration temperatures. Yeasts and molds from the egg shells were isolated and identified. Various species of Candida yeasts were the most common isolate recovered from the eggshells. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.1: Detection and Validation, Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology).

11. Determination of the effect of sand and shaking time on recovery of bacteria from broiler carcasses Eviscerated broiler carcasses were obtained from a processing facility, and whole carcass rinses were performed by rinsing with or without sand for 2 different times. More bacteria were recovered from carcasses rinsed with sand than from carcasses rinsed without sand. Increasing the shaking time did not change the number of bacteria recovered from the carcasses. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.2 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.1: Detection and Validation, Postharvest Problem Statement 1.2.3: Production and Processing Ecology).

12. Bacteria Recovered from the Spleen, Liver, Gallbladder, and Ceca of Commercial Broilers Organs of market-age broilers were examined for the presence of pathogenic bacteria. Salmonella and Campylobacter were isolated from all samples. Higher concentrations of bacteria were found in samples taken from 6 week old broilers than from 8 week old broilers. (National Program 108, Food Safety, Component 1.1 Pathogens, Toxins, and Chemical Contaminants—Preharvest, Problem Statement 1.1.2: Epidemiology).


5.Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations
Hosted graduate student from Tuskegee in microbiology laboratory and provided financial, technical, and logistical support and mentoring for student. Student completed research required for completion of his Master’s Degree.


6.Technology Transfer

Number of Non-Peer Reviewed Presentations and Proceedings4
Number of Newspaper Articles and Other Presentations for Non-Science Audiences2

Review Publications
Cason Jr, J.A., Hinton Jr, A., Northcutt, J.K., Buhr, R.J., Ingram, K.D., Smith, D.P., Cox Jr, N.A. 2007. Partioning of external and internal bacteria carried by broiler chickens before processing. Journal of Food Protection. 70:2056-2062.

Cox Jr, N.A., Richardson, L.J., Buhr, R.J., Northcutt, J.K., Bailey, J.S., Cray, P.J., Hiett, K.L. 2007. Recovery of Campylobacter and Salmonella serovars from the spleen, liver and gallbladder, and ceca of six and eight week old commercial broilers. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 16(4):477-480.

Hannah, J.F., Fletcher, D.L., Cox Jr, N.A., Smith, D.P., Cason Jr, J.A., Northcutt, J.K., Buhr, R.J., Richardson, L.J. 2008. Effect of sand and shaking duration on the recovery of aerobic bacteria, coliforms, and Escherichia coli from prechill broiler whole carcass rinsates. Applied Poultry Research. 17:(2)272-277.

Huezo, R., Northcutt, J.K., Smith, D.P., Fletcher, D.L. 2007. Effect of chilling method and post-mortem aging time on broiler breast fillet quality. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 16:537-545.

Huezo, R., Northcutt, J.K., Smith, D.P., Fletcher, D.L., Ingram, K.D. 2007. Effect of dry air and immersion chilling on bacteria recovery from broiler carcasses. Journal of Food Protection. 70:1829-1834.

Musgrove, M.T., Jones, D.R., Hinton Jr, A., Ingram, K.D., Northcutt, J.K. 2008. Running title: Yeasts from refrigerated commercial shell eggs. Journal of Food Protection:71:1258-1261

Northcutt, J.K. 2007. Water use and reuse in commercial turkey processing facilities. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 16:652-655.

Northcutt, J.K., Smith, D.P., Ingram, K.D., Hinton Jr, A., Musgrove, M.T. 2007. Recovery of bacteria from broiler carcasses after spray washing with acidified electrolyzed water or sodium hypochlorite solutions. Poultry Science. 86:2239-2244.

Cason Jr, J.A., Buhr, R.J., Richardson, L.J., Cox Jr, N.A. 2007. Internal and external carriage of inoculated salmonella in broiler chickens. International Journal of Poultry Science. 6:952-954.

Hinton Jr, A., Cason Jr, J.A. 2007. Bacterial flora of skin of processed broiler chickens after successive washings in mixtures of potassium hydroxide and lauric acid. Journal of Food Protection. 17:1707-1713.

Musgrove, M.T., Northcutt, J.K., Jones, D.R., Cox Jr, N.A., Harrison, M.A. 2008. Enterobacteriaceae and Related Organisms Isolated from Shell Eggs Collected During Commercial Processing. Poultry Science. 87:1211-1218.

Northcutt, J.K., Cason Jr, J.A., Ingram, K.D., Smith, D.P., Buhr, R.J., Fletcher, D.L. 2008. Recovery of Bacteria from Broiler Carcasses after Immersion Chilling in Different Volumes of Water, Part2. Poultry Science. 87:573-576.

Northcutt, J.K., Huezo, R.I., Ingram, K.D., Smith, D.P. 2008. Microbiology of Broiler Carcasses and Chemistry of Chiller Water as Affected by Water Reuse. Poultry Science. 87:1458-1463.

Hinton Jr, A., Cason Jr, J.A. 2007. Changes in the bacterial flora of skin of processed broiler chickens washed in solutions of salicylic acid. International Journal of Poultry Science. 6(12)960-966.

Last Modified: 4/23/2014
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