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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Athens, Georgia » U.S. National Poultry Research Center » Poultry Microbiological Safety and Processing Research Unit » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #294109

Title: Mechanical Hatching Egg Sanitization: A Fresh Look

item MAULDIN, J - University Of Georgia
item Berrang, Mark
item Cox, Nelson - Nac

Submitted to: WATT Poultry USA
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/1/2003
Publication Date: 3/1/2003
Citation: Mauldin, J.M., Berrang, M.E., Cox Jr, N.A. 2003. Mechanical Hatching Egg Sanitization: A Fresh Look. WATT Poultry USA. 4:42-50.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Three to four decades ago, hatching egg sanitization was done by immersion of eggs in an egg-gathering basket (plastic-coated metal wire) into a small vat with a heating element and disinfectant solution. This procedure failed miserably for several reasons. First, the eggs were not subjected to the heated disinfectant for the correct amount of time. Second, and probably the most significant reason dipping failed, was that the solutions were not changed frequently enough. The accumulating organic matter resulted in microbial inoculation of eggs rather than disinfection. Third, accurate temperature control was practically impossible. The solution temperature (115 to 120 F) cooled immediately when a load of eggs were dipped, significantly reducing the effectiveness of the disinfectant. Fourth, immersion did not effectively remove the organic material from the eggshells. The consequences of this early attempt at hatching egg sanitization were disastrous. Not only were the results bad those several decades ago, it prejudiced an entire industry against future interest in hatching egg sanitization. In the last 10 years, hatching egg sanitization has reappeared, but in a much different form: mechanical hatching egg sanitization. Mechanical hatching egg sanitizers are being used mainly in the primary breeder industry and by some parent-stock egg producers. The mechanical egg sanitizers are very effective because their controls have eliminated the problems that occurred with immersion (time, solution temperature, contamination and non-removal of organic material). In addition, these machines truly clean the eggs. Research has shown that bacterial counts were reduced by 99.9 percent by mechanical egg sanitization and that floor eggs could also be washed and used as hatching eggs. Eggs classified as dirty by the producer had significantly higher populations of total aerobic bacteria and Enterobacteriaceae than eggs classified as nest-clean. However, after sanitizing there was no significant difference between sanitized dirty and sanitized clean eggs. Mechanical egg sanitation provides the broiler industry with more opportunity to reduce the transfer of pathogens from breeder farm to hatchery to the chicks and ultimately, to the processed broiler carcass. With ever-increasing concerns for food safety and reducing contamination in live bird operations, mechanical egg sanitation deserves a closer evaluation.