Submitted to: International Poultry Scientific Forum
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 15, 2013
Publication Date: January 27, 2014
Citation: Holser, R.A. 2014. Microbial contamination in poultry chillers estimated by Monte Carlo simulations. International Poultry Scientific Forum [abstract]. Technical Abstract: Recent bacterial outbreaks in fresh and processed foods have increased awareness of food safety among consumers, regulatory agencies, and the food industry. The risk of contamination exists in meat processing facilities where bacteria that are normally associated with the animal are transferred to the product. If the product is not stored, handled, or cooked properly the results range from mild food poisoning to potential life threatening health conditions. One strategy to manage risk during production is the practice of Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). This approach has gained acceptance by the United States Food and Drug Administration and includes identification and control of hazards from raw materials through production and delivery of the finished product. In keeping with the principles of HACCP a key processing step to control bacterial growth occurs at the chiller. The risk of microbial contamination during poultry processing is influenced by the operating characteristics of the chiller. The performance of air chillers and immersion chillers were compared in terms of pre-chill and post-chill contamination using Monte Carlo simulations. Three parameters were used to model the cross-contamination that occurs during chiller operation. The model used one parameter to estimate the likelihood of contact and a second parameter to estimate the likelihood of contamination resulting from that contact. A third parameter was included to represent the influence of antimicrobial treatments to reduce bacterial populations. Results were calculated for 30%, 50%, and 80% levels of contamination in pre-chill carcasses. Air chilling showed increased risk of contamination in post-chill carcasses. Immersion chilling with 50 mg/L chlorine or 5% trisodium phosphate added to the chiller water as antimicrobial treatments reduced contamination to negligible levels in post-chill carcasses. Simulations of combination air/immersion chiller systems showed reductions of microbial contamination but not to the extent of immersion chillers. This is attributed to the reduced exposure time to antimicrobial treatments. These results show the relation between chiller operation and the potential to mitigate risk of microbial contamination during poultry processing.