Good hygiene ensures a higher shelf life in poultry processing

12 March, 2020 Twan Koenen

Hygiene is a very important aspect of the product quality in modern poultry processing. The reduction of bacteria like salmonella, campylobacter and listeria, that can cause illnesses, is a vital step in the hygiene process. Equally important is reducing bacteria like Pseudomonas, which impact a product’s shelf life.

The hurdle concept

Most processors are familiar with the hurdle concept and have operations set up according to this concept. It means you reduce or eliminate bacteria at the end of each step of the process where bacteria occur or are present. The most effective moment to remove bacteria is immediately after each processing step, before bacteria manage to attach to the product’s skin or tissue. This process usually requires a lot of water and energy. However, our unique Undine® technology, which mixes water and air under high pressure, achieves superior cleaning results whilst using up to 65% less water and energy.

The hurdle concept in poultry processing

In poultry processing, hurdles can be made before and after defeathering (i.e. scalding, plucking), venter, opener, eviscerator, and cropper. An inside/outside bird washer will give the product it’s final thorough cleaning.

Washing and wetting the feathers before scalding

Washing and wetting the feathers before scalding reduces the dirt and bacterial loads in the scalding tanks. The wetting of the feathers makes scalding more effective in the first 10-20 seconds after entering the scalding tanks. This can also improve the overall defeathering results in situations where scalding and the defeathering process times have become shorter due to increased line speeds.

For defeathering, this means that immediately after plucking, before the skin pores and follicles close again, bacteria such as salmonella, can be washed down with fine, high velocity water droplets such as the Undine® air-water mixture. This cleaning step will also keep slaughter and EV shackles clean from loose feathers and dirt, that may enter the evisceration process.

Cleaning hurdles in the evisceration process

In the evisceration process, cleaning hurdles need to be made after each EV process step where faecal contamination can occur, such as immediately after or inside the venter, opener and eviscerator. Research shows, that salmonellas are especially found in the crop. Therefore, to fight salmonellas, it is necessary to wash effectively inside the carcass after the cropper. Thanks to the high velocity air and water droplets produced by the Undine® technology, the Undine® inside and outside washer has no evasive parts inside the products or any contact with the line.

Cleaner products leads to fewer rejections

By presenting cleaner products to the veterinarian inspectors, the number of rejections due to visual contamination will be reduced. In addition, the workload of the vets will be reduced, which otherwise can become an issue when increasing line speeds and capacities.

Longer shelf life if all hurdles are in place

The reason why all hurdles must be in place, and why optimal hygiene in each step is vital, is to achieve a high product hygiene level and low bacterial counts. Which in turn leads to a longer shelf life. The lower the bacterial counts at the start of the cold chain, the longer the shelve life at specific temperatures. Therefore, it is vital to put clean products into your chilling tunnel/cold store.

Don’t forget to clean the shackles too

In order to keep the birds clean, it is important to clean the shackles too. Since listeria survives at very low temperatures in, for example, cool and cut up lines, it is very important to clean not only your slaughter and EV shackles, but also any cooling shackles and cut up product carriers as well. How to wash and clean your shackles and product carriers inline will be discussed in a separate article on shackle and conveyor belt washing.

We know which solution is right for you

Would you also like to improve hygiene and save on water, energy and personnel costs? Do not hesitate and get in touch with us. You can call +31 (0) 527 745 932. Together with you, we will look for the best solution. Then, we will make a proposal, including the ROI, payback period and a quotation.

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