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New Air Cleaning Device Cuts Salmonella in Poultry Houses

By Sharon Durham
February 23, 2000

A new electrostatic air cleaning system reduced airborne Salmonella by 94 percent in a commercial hatchery in Georgia recently, according to Agricultural Research Service scientists who developed the system.

Once it’s incorporated into commercial poultry operations, the system promises to improve food safety by reducing Salmonella in hatching cabinets--a primary source of Salmonella contamination for broiler chickens. Strong air currents can spread Salmonella from a single infected chick to all of the chicks in a hatching cabinet.

The new system, developed by ARS scientist Bailey W. Mitchell at the Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory in Athens, Ga., captures dust that harbors hitchhiking organisms such as Salmonella. Dust is electrostatically charged and captured on special plates that are automatically washed clean at prescribed intervals. The system has been tested in hatching cabinets of two large poultry integrators as well as in experimental caged layer rooms.

Results of the most recent commercial experiments showed an average reduction of 77 percent in dust levels and 94 percent less enterobacteriaceae (commonly encountered bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that frequently cause disease) than a cabinet treated with hydrogen peroxide disinfectant. The system has also been shown to reduce airborne Salmonella enteritidis in a caged layer room by 95 percent and to have a strong killing effect on Salmonella at close range.

Researchers applied for a patent in July 1998, and two companies have licensed the technology. A commercial version of the system, called “Clean Chick,” has been developed by BioIon, a newly formed company in Watkinsville, Ga., and it is being distributed by Surepip, Inc., of Dallas, Ga.

Major poultry companies around the world, including the United States, Mexico, South America, Japan, Korea, Israel and Holland, also have expressed interest in the system as a food safety intervention approach.

Scientific contact: Bailey Mitchell, ARS Southeast Poultry Laboratory, phone (706) 546-3443,

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