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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: MICROBIAL ECOLOGY OF HUMAN PATHOGENS RELATIVE TO POULTRY PROCESSING

Location: Bacterial Epidemiology and Antimicrobial Resistance

Title: Spray washing, absorbent cornstarch powder, and dry time to reduce bacterial numbers on soiled transport cage flooring

Authors
item Berrang, Mark
item Meinersmann, Richard
item Hofacre, C -

Submitted to: Journal of Applied Poultry Research
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: May 23, 2011
Publication Date: September 1, 2011
Citation: Berrang, M.E., Meinersmann, R.J., Hofacre, C.L. 2011. Spray washing, absorbent cornstarch powder, and dry time to reduce bacterial numbers on soiled transport cage flooring. Journal of Applied Poultry Research. 20(3):378-382.

Interpretive Summary: Broiler transport cages are often used repeatedly without washing and fecal matter deposited on the floor surface can transfer Campylobacter from one flock to another. Allowing the cage to sit unused for 24 hours causes the feces to dry out and effectively kills Campylobacter. However, this is impractical due to the size and cost of transport cages. We tested the use of a food grade desiccant powder (corn starch) to speed the drying process. Small square peices of fiberglass transport cage flooring were covered with broiler gut contents containing Campylobacter which was allowed to attach for 60 minutes before being sprayed with water and covered with corn starch. Untreated control and spray washed only squares were maintained for comparison. Fifteen minutes after application of corn starch to spray washed flooring, Campylobacter numbers were significantly lower than on control floor squares. After two hours of post-treatment dry time, Campylobacter could not be detected on any spray washed floor regardless of the presence of corn starch. Corn starch may be useful to speed the desiccation and caused death of Campylobacter in broiler transport cages. This technique may have application for poultry processors who wash cages between uses.

Technical Abstract: Broiler transport cages are often used repeatedly without washing and fecal matter deposited on the floor surface can transfer Campylobacter from one flock to another. Allowing feces to dry is an effective but slow and logistically impractical means to kill Campylobacter in soiled transport cages. The objective of this study was to test the addition of an absorbent powder to boost efficiency of cage drying as a sanitation procedure. Squares (5 X 5 cm) of fiberglass transport cage flooring were covered with broiler gut contents for 60 minutes, spray washed and then covered with a known quantity of corn starch or left untreated as controls. All squares were left to dry for 0.25, 2, 4 or 24 hours before sampling for Campylobacter counts, reported as log CFU per floor square. At 0.25 hours dry time, corn starch alone did not significantly lessen the number of Campylobacter or E. coli compared to unwashed control; spray washing lowered numbers by more than 90% and a combination of washing followed by corn starch lowered numbers by about three logs (99.9%). By two hours dry time, no Campylobacter was detected on spray washed flooring with or without corn starch compared to 5.60 on control unwashed and 4.46 on corn starch treated unwashed flooring. At 24 hours dry time, no Campylobacter was detected on any flooring and no E. coli was detected on spray washed flooring. These data show that an absorbent powder may aid in the desiccation caused death of bacteria on soiled transport cage flooring in a short turn around time scenario.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014