Why washing after the cropper is essential for hygiene in poultry processing

3 November, 2020 Twan Koenen

In a previous article, we already elaborated on the hurdle to hurdle concept. We explained how hurdles in poultry processing prevent dirt and bacteria from passing on to the next processing step. In almost all cases, a hurdle consists of a washing step: a nozzle on the machine or cabinet dedicated to this function. The better dirt and bacteria are removed, the less likely bacteria are passed on further into the process, and eventually end up in or on the end products. By having the right hurdles in the right place in your process, you ensure the hygiene level and quality of your products.

In this article, we describe the crop removal step in poultry processing in greater detail. A lot of contamination takes place in this processing step. Therefore, it is important to wash the products and tools immediately after the crop has been removed.




The crop removal process often causes contamination

Research shows that of all salmonella positive cases, around 80% is found in the crop. This makes sense, since the crop’s function is to act as a ‘feed storage buffer’ for the poultry’s gizzard. The feed that is inside, is not always free of salmonella.

The gizzard, crop and esophagus are separated in the evisceration step. The esophagus stays behind in the neck during evisceration. In this step, the crop opens and the breast cavity risks contamination by the feed content of the crop. Typically, the crop is then removed in a mechanical action using a drill. This is a dedicated rotating machine where a drill removes the crop residue from the product and neck area. The drill in turn, is freed from tissue and dirt by a rotating brush.

The crop removal is mainly a ‘dry’, mechanical process. Effective in removing the crop tissue, however, less effective in removing feed residue and bacteria. Usually, except for nozzles that spray on the brush, there is no thorough product washing step installed immediately after the crop removal machine. This gives bacteria and dirt the opportunity to dry or fixate in the product.

The importance of washing products in and after the cropper

Washing your product immediately after the cropper creates a hurdle against contamination caused by the crop, such as feed and bacteria. This washing step is very effective against visible contamination as well as bacteria, such as salmonella. By washing products immediately after the crop has been removed, contaminants are removed effectively before they get fixated or dry in. Washing both in and after the cropper with Undine® improves your product hygiene and saves up to 70% on water, compared to conventional cleaning methods.

Undine® washes the inside and outside of poultry

After the removal of the crop, the product needs to be thoroughly washed, primarily on the inside. In an Undine® washer, a mixture of water and air is directed inside the product. And by adding compressed air, a high velocity swirl is created deep inside the product. This swirl is targeted on the crop and neck area in particular, which makes it very effective in cleaning your products. Furthermore, a small water pocket is created where the crop used to be. This water pocket is drained through the neck and flushes the water and dirt from the product. Not only cleaning, but also removing dirt from the product with the drain water.

For most processing lines, this is an extra washing step that is not always installed in standard layouts. If the washer fits between the cropper and neck breaker in the layout, this additional hurdle will improve the neck meat hygiene as well.

It’s also essential to clean the tools

In order to prevent cross-contamination to other products, it’s also important to clean the tools after each product. The better the tools (both drill and brush) are cleaned, the less recontamination and cross-contamination occurs. So you can improve the process hygiene even further by also using Undine® for machine and tool cleaning.

We know which solutions are right for you

Would you like to know more about the hurdle to hurdle concept? Or would you also like to improve hygiene and save on water, energy and personnel costs? Please feel free to contact our experts. They are happy to provide personal advice. Which solutions suit you best, depends on your specific plant configuration and products.

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