Title: Ability of chemically softened water to rinse bacteria from the skin of processed broilers Authors
Submitted to: International Association for Food Protection Proceedings
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: March 10, 2009
Publication Date: July 12, 2009
Citation: Hinton Jr, A., Holser, R.A. 2009. Ability of chemically softened water to rinse bacteria from the skin of processed broilers [abstract}. International Association for Food Protection Proceedings. T6-10. Technical Abstract: Introduction: The quality of water used in cleansing operations in commercial poultry processing facilities may have an effect on the efficacy of sanitation operations in these facilities. Water hardness is a characteristic of water that is related to the concentration of calcium and magnesium dissolved in the water. The high concentration of minerals dissolved in hard water makes hard water a less effective cleanser than soft water which contains a lower concentration of minerals; therefore, hard water may also be less effective at removing bacterial contamination from broiler skin. Purpose: The purpose of this experiment was to examine the ability of hard water that was chemically softened by the addition of various concentrations potassium citrate to rinse bacteria from the skin of processed broiler chickens. Methods: Artificial hard water (200 ppm total hardness) was prepared by dissolving 0.38 g calcium chloride and 0.175 g magnesium chloride hexahydrate per liter of distilled water. Hard water was then chemically softened by dissolving 0.0, 1.0, 2.5, or 5.0% (w/v) potassium citrate in the water. Skin samples taken from breasts of broiler carcasses were rinsed for five consecutive times in fresh aliquots of chemically softened water, and bacteria in the final skin rinsate were enumerated. Results: Results indicated that significantly (P < 0.05) fewer bacteria were recovered on Eosin Methylene Blue and Campylobacter Agars from skin rinsed in hard water softened with 5.0% citrate than from skin rinsed in water softened with 0.0, 1.0, or 2.5% citrate. Water hardness had no effect on the number of bacteria recovered on Staphylococcus or Plate Count Agars, however. In vitro tests indicated that potassium citrate was not bactericidal towards Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, or Staphylococcus simulans isolates recovered from broiler skin. Significance: Findings from these experiments indicate that water hardness can play a role in the ability of water to rinse away intestinal bacteria from the skin of processed broiler chickens. Since potassium citrate possessed no bactericidal activity, differences in the number of bacteria recovered from the skin was probably due to the differences in the ability of the rinse waters to physically remove bacteria from the skin. Therefore, poultry processors may be able to reduce the number of bacteria on processed poultry by monitoring and controlling the hardness of water used to wash carcasses in processing operations.