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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit » Research » Research Project #444800

Research Project: Poultry Processing Research and Innovation

Location: Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit

Project Number: 6040-42440-001-015-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2023
End Date: Aug 31, 2025

1. Develop alternative primary poultry processing approaches to improve sustainability and efficiency while maintaining product safety and quality. 2. Develop advanced chilling strategies and sensing technologies to enhance the efficiency and efficacy of poultry chilling and anti-microbial interventions.

The following technologies and processes will be investigated: scalding and de-feathering procedures for On-Farm (delayed) and traditional processing, sensing technologies for antimicrobials, such as peracetic acid (PAA), and microbial sensing and chiller operation including in-line immersion chilling. A study of alternative processing approaches will be conducted using a multifaceted approach focused on On-Farm processing of broilers. Studies will be conducted on the scalding, de-feathering, and further processing procedures to understand the impact of time delays in processing broilers. The study of carcass conditions such as surface and muscle temperatures will allow us to identify and facilitate optimal scalding and de-feathering conditions during transport. Studies will conducted on feather-removing force and feather-removing quality for different temperatures and humidity that reflect seasonal fluctuations, as well as to identify optimal feather removal conditions. To identify optimal conditions for scalding during transport the team will investigate the feasibility of using air, steam, and other scalding systems to allow easier feather picking. The system will incorporate processing broilers going through rigor mortis, temperature history, feather attachment strength, and other factors, such as feather orientation to identify and deliver targeted thermal treatment according to carcass region as well as identify the system that can be used to pick according to the region of interest. Studies will also evaluate the feasibility of using targeted scalding and picking for traditional processing. This work will lead to potential water, energy, and resource savings. Scalding and de-feathering processes greatly impact energy and water use as well as environment and food safety. Scalding and de-feathering optimization are vital to the success, sustainability, and competitiveness of the poultry industry. To improve the sustainability and antimicrobial efficacy of poultry chiller treatments the team will employ a sensor technology to detect and provide managerial feedback for PAA, other antimicrobials, and microbial chiller concentrations. This envisioned ruggedized sensor, with filtration, and bacterial detection capability would bring the system to a stage where it could be placed in a plant with a doping mechanism to automate the adding of antimicrobials to the chiller as well as give live feedback on the current effectiveness of the antimicrobial on the bacterial load. A completed device would be able to move the antimicrobial level monitoring to a control area and out of the plant as well as allow for checking levels at multiple spots in the process. To address intense energy and time requirements for carcass chilling the team will develop in-line immersive chilling systems that employ translation and rotation to enhance chiller effectiveness and efficiency. As the chiller is transformed from a virtual black box wherein carcass conditions are only known “pre-“ and “post-“, to a process with nearly in situ checkpoints; operational insights are gained as well as opportunities to reduce usage of resources such as process energy and water.