WHEN SAFE ISN’T
The record for the poultry industry regarding food safety has been good.
However, the public demands the impossible task of zero tolerance.
Where does the industry go from here? s by Charlie Olentine
“Should You Eat Irradiated
Table 1. Evaluation of E. coli Test Results1
Meat?” (USA Weekend, January 23,
1998)... Types of poultry Lower limit of Upper limit of Number of Maximum
marginal range marginal range samples tested number
“Meat Plants Continue Opera- permitted in
tions Despite Multiple Health Viola-
tions” (Birmingham News, January Chickens 100 CFU/ml 1,000 CFU/ml 13 3
18, 1998)... Turkeys2 NA NA NA NA
“Chicken: What You Don’t Know 1 FSIS Directive 5000.1, Attachment 1. Three tube Most Probable Number (MPN) method.
CAN Hurt You” (Consumer Re- 2 Not available; values for turkeys will be added upon a completion of data collection program
ports, March 1998)...
Pick up any newspaper
Table 2. Salmonella Performance Standards1
or listen to the television
magazine shows and, in Class of Product Performance Standard Number of Maximum Number
(Percent Positive for Salmonella) Samples Tested of Positives to
more cases than not, the issue of Achieve Standard
food safety will be discussed.
Today’s communication technology Broilers 20.0 51 12
provides almost instantaneous Ground Chicken 44.6 53 26
broadcasts of news worldwide; so Ground Turkey 49.9 53 59
much so, that an E. coli or food poi- Turkey2 NA NA NA
soning incident in Massachusetts or 1 FSIS Directive 5000.1, Attachment 1. Three tube Most Probable Number (MPN) method.
Oregon will be on the national Not available; values for turkeys will be added upon a completion of data collection program
news that same evening. “Food
Safety” is a phrase that will contin-
ue to challenge the poultry industry rules on how we inspect poultry; and trate the tolerance levels for E. coli and
for years to come. Fortunately, tech- while the transition to the new system salmonella, respectively (FSIS Direc-
nology is being developed to help the will be bumpy, it offers potential for tive 5000.1, Attachment 1).
poultry processor deal with the chal- enhancing food safety by stressing
lenges of controlling foodborne controlling contamination through mi- Scope of the Problem
pathogens. crobial monitoring as opposed to the
The HACCP (hazard analysis critical old system that focused solely upon vi- The Centers for Disease Control es-
control point) concept changes the sual inspection. Tables 1 and 2 illus- timates that between six million and 80
million people are hit with food-
Table 3. Estimated Number of Illnesses and Deaths in the U.S. Caused by Selected Foodborne borne illnesses in the U.S. every
Organisms. year. The impact is enormous with a
Pathogen Estimated Estimated Implicated foods
financial impact of $5 billion and a
cases deaths cost of life of 9,000. In the investi-
gation of foodborne illnesses, sever-
Campylobacter jejuni 4,000,000 200-1,000 Poultry, raw meat, untreated water
al organisms have direct links to
Salmonella (nontyphoid) 2,000,000 500-2,000 Eggs, poultry, meat, produce
poultry; and from a broader per-
E. coli O157:H7 25,000 100-200 Ground beef, raw milk, lettuce,
unpasteurized apple juice/cider spective, the challenges to the entire
untreated water meat and poultry industries are in-
Listeria monocytogenes 1,500 250-500 Ready-to-eat foods tertwined. Table 3 illustrates the im-
Altekruse, et al.
pact of several organisms that are fre- from Johnson) appears to be a good various forms of chlorine that can be
quently associated with meat and poul- initial step in controlling contamina- used. Chlorine gas, sodium hypochlo-
try products. tion on the processing line. rite and on-site generated chlorine are
European processors have tradition- now being used. Calcium hypochlorite
The Targets ally used air chilling instead of the cold is a another form of chlorine (see page
water chilling techniques used in the 41) that reportedly has been used
Foodborne pathogens are extremely U.S. and claim to provide cleaner car- recently by some poultry processors
pervasive in the environment with sev- casses due to the fact that the carcasses including Sanderson Farms and
eral being commonly associated with are not exposed to contaminated water. ConAgra Poultry.
meat and poultry products. In 1998, the However, through the use of chlorine The University of Arkansas re-
newly mandated HACCP program pro- in chiller water, microbial contamina- searcher points out that in order to con-
vides a new approach to meat and tion has traditionally been kept in trol pathogens on the postchill carcass,
poultry inspection, one key component check with the additional benefit of im- levels of 0.5 to 1.0 ppm available chlo-
of which is microbiological monitoring proving the shelf life of the product rine must be maintained at the end of
of the processing line. The new system over air chilling techniques. the chiller. From a mode of action
has been superimposed over the older point of view, chlorine treatments’ ef-
visual appraisal system prompting out- Controlling Contamination: fectiveness is highly dependent on pH.
cries by the industry of additional cost Chemical Agents At pH levels of 6.0 to 6.5 chlorine
for implementation. However, the treatments exhibit high degrees of bac-
poultry industry is, in general, favor- Processing of birds can never totally tericidal activity. Once pH goes over
ably supportive of the HACCP con- prevent microbial exposure. Thus, the 7.0, the effectiveness drops off rapidly.
cept, recognizing that the ultimate goal use of chemical agents to kill and/or re- She pointed out that most processors
is to minimize the potential for prob- tard the growth of pathogens is essen- do not monitor pH of the chill water
lems. tial. A wide variety of products has and would probably be very surprised
Table 4 (shown on pages 28-29) pro- been tested with specific advantages to see that, in many cases, pH could ex-
vides a summary of the major organ- and disadvantages to each. Auburn re- ceed 7.6.
isms of concern relating to foodborne searchers (Tamblyn, et al., 1997) com- While chlorine is an effective treat-
illness associated with meat and poul- pared a number of compounds using a ment, excessive levels can produce off-
try. skin attachment model to determine flavor and carcass discoloration. Addi-
the antibacterial efficacy of potential tionally, chlorine compounds can be
Controlling Contamination: carcass treatments. Table 5 summa- corrosive to equipment and can pose
Mechanical Perspectives rizes the results. skin irritation and other health prob-
Speaking at the National Meeting on lems for workers.
One of the most significant develop- Poultry Health & Processing (1997), Chlorine dioxide (ClO2) has been
ments in controlling microbial contam- Amy Waldroup, a researcher at the approved by FDA as a secondary direct
ination has come from the develop- University of Arkansas, outlined a food additive permitted in food for
ment of eviscerating equipment that number of factors to consider when human consumption and is allowed as
physically separates the viscera from using antimicrobial products. Among an antimicrobial agent in process water
the carcass early in the process. The them are the following: at a level of 3 ppm residual ClO2. It has
viscera travels in parallel with the car- q Approval from the government been shown to be four to seven times
cass through the line, allowing inspec- (FDA, USDA and EPA all play roles in more effective than chlorine in killing
tion with a minimum of chance for clearance of antimicrobials) salmonella, having 2.6 times the oxi-
cross-contamination. This technology q Labeling dizing power of chlorine. Advantages
has also allowed processors to increase q Safety to workers include a wider range of pH for effec-
line speeds dramatically. q Product alterations (Does the com- tiveness, extremely low generation of
A variety of manufacturers are offer- pound affect the taste of color of the mutagenic compounds and less corro-
ing this type of technology (see final product?) sion to equipment because of lower
BROILER INDUSTRY, April 1997), q Corrosion to equipment concentrations. ClO2 can be as effec-
and the technology is working. Recent q Antimicrobial efficacy in the pro- tive as 20 ppm chlorine, but it becomes
research from the University of Geor- cessing environment difficult to sustain the necessary levels
gia (Russell and Walker, 1997) demon- in the chiller to be effective and can be
strated that the new technology (Stork Chlorine Compounds more expensive. Traditional uses of
Nu-Tech system) produces products ClO2 in the processing plant have been
with fewer coliforms and performs bet- Dr. Waldroup stated at the meeting limited because of the need for multi-
ter in visual inspection than did the tra- that chlorine is the most commonly stepped generation of ClO2 which can
ditional evisceration techniques. While used chemical disinfectant in poultry yield variable and hard to maintain lev-
the research was limited to the evalua- plants. Citing the National Broiler els of the product. It also involves sev-
tion of the Nu-Tech system, the con- Council’s recommendation for chlo- eral hazardous chemical components.
cept of separating the eviscera from the rine to be used on all equipment sur- Several manufacturers are developing
carcass, such as with other systems faces (20 ppm) and in the immersion stabilized ClO2 products, therein elim-
(i.e., Maestro from Meyn and Sani-Vis chiller (20 to 50 ppm), she outlined the inating the need for expensive genera-
nella post-chill, and the results have
Table 5. Effect (log 10 reduction colony-forming units per skin) Against Freely Suspended
S. Typhimurium. been excellent, according to Mr.
McKenzie. He goes on to state that off-
line reprocessing has been virtually
Chiller Dip Scalder zero and that the system has more than
(0C/60 minutes) (23C/15s) (50C/2 minutes) paid for itself. The firm reports that it
20 ppm Sodium hypochlorite >6.7 5.1 >6.7 has had no problem with wastewater
400 ppm Sodium hypochlorite >6.7 >7.0 >6.7 disposal with relation to phosphates.
800 ppm Sodium hypochlorite >6.7 >7.0 >6.7
5 percent Acetic acid >6.7 4.5 >6.7
8 percent Trisodium phosphate
1 percent Sodium metabisulfite
Ozone Water Treatment
Deionized water 0.1 0 0.6
In June 1997, ozone was granted
Tamblyn, et al., 1997 GRAS status and is currently receiv-
ing attention from poultry processors.
tion equipment and reducing risks due with increased numbers of birds being This highly reactive form of oxygen
to the presence of raw chemicals. One chilled. (O3 instead of O2) is dissolved in
such product is ConSeal Internation- One operation that has reported suc- water. Being a powerful oxidizer, the
al’s (Longwood, Fla.) ZyDox Anthium cess with the Rhodia TSP system is ozone binds to the carbon atoms in the
Dioxide. Choctaw Maid, Carthage, Miss. Says bacterial cell wall, therein compromis-
Subsequent to Dr. Waldroup’s pre- Processing Director Duffy McKenzie, ing the integrity of the cell wall and
sentation has been the USDA clearance “We have been very pleased with the killing the microorganism. Ozone has
in January of a patented process of in- results of the system.” Microbiological 150 percent of the oxidizing potential
volving the combination of sodium assays are run for E. coli and salmo- of chlorine.
chlorite with acid to produce an acidi-
fied chlorous acid mist applied prior to Table 4.
the chiller (see page 32, Newly Ap- Organism Associated Foods Frequency of Disease
proved Bactericide Applied in Misting
Campylobacter jejuni Frequently contaminates raw chicken. Leading cause of bacterial
Chamber). At the meeting she stated Surveys show 20 to 100 percent of retail diarrhea in the U.S. Estimates
that if one has a serious chronic prob- chicken contaminated. Also found in are 2 to 4 million per year.
shellfish, livestock, pets, raw milk and Fewer than 500 organisms
lem with salmonella (where salmonella non-chlorinated water. can cause illness.
keeps cropping up), the use of chlorine More frequent in the summer
months than in winter.
dioxide is probably the best strategy.
Listeria monocytogenes Frequently associated with raw milk, CDC data indicates at least
Trisodium Phosphate cheese, raw vegetables, ferments raw
meat sausages, raw and cooked
1850 cases in the U.S., 424 of
which are fatal. Difficult to
poultry and fish. determine.
Trisodium phosphate (TSP) relies on Infective dose is unknown but
its alkalinity and emulsifying proper-
ties for effectiveness. According to Salmonella spp. Raw meats, poultry, eggs, milk and
dairy products, fish, shrimp, yeast,
Estimates are between 2 to 4
million cases annually in the
manufacturer Rhodia, TSP has two im- coconut, sauces and salad dressings, U.S.
cake mixes, cream-filled desserts, Infective dose as low as 15-20
portant modes of action. First, the dried gelatin, peanut butter, cocoa cells.
highly alkaline (pH = 12-13) solution and chocolate
removes fat films from the surface of Staphylococcus aureus Meat and meat products; poultry and Unknown.
the carcass. Secondly, when the alka- egg products; salads involving eggs,
tuna, potato and macaroni; cream
line solution comes into contact with filled bakery products; sandwich fillings;
the pathogen, a disruption and lysing and milk and dairy products. FDA states
that food requiring considerable
of the cell membrane occurs. Since the handling during preparation and that
are kept at slightly elevated tempera-
outer membrane is rich in fatty mole- tures are frequently involved.
cules, the wall is torn apart.
Escherichia coli Primarily raw beef or chicken. On a worldwide basis
In Rhodia’s Assur-Rinse program, a Enteropathogenic strains Can be associated with any food associated with local
two-part, on-line processing system is (EPEC) exposed to fecal contamination. sanitation practices.
Enteroinvasive strains Infective dose very low
used. It consists of a vigorous water (EEIC) for infants.
wash followed by a patented rinse lo- Enterotoxigenic strains
cated just prior to the chiller. Figure 1
Escherichia coli Undercooked or raw hamburger, Not common, but highly
illustrates where the TSP program fits O157:H7 raw milk. virulent. Found worldwide
into the processing line. The process Improperly handled food. with cases most commonly
Person-to-person contact. occurring in the summer
offers the following advantages: re- months.
duced manpower demands for off-line
processing, increased yield through re-
duction in trim loss and increased line Source: FDA Bad Bug Book (http://cfsan.fda.gov.~mow); CDC (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/diseases); National Livestock
efficiency combining fewer slowdowns
With the granting of GRAS status to
ozone, a number of innovative ap-
proaches are now hitting the market.
While many of the systems are in the
testing or prototypical stage, several
units are currently in commercial oper-
ation (see Ozone: An Old, But New,
One of the key advantages to ozona-
tion is a reduction in the water utiliza-
tion. When properly utilized, ozoniza-
tion is extremely effective in killing
bacteria. Additionally, it offers the op-
portunity to reduce water consumption Figure 1
in the chilling process through recy-
cling. option for the poultry industry; but be- the survival of the organism. In the
tween high costs and consumer resis- process, product must be taken to the
Irradiation tance, it has not developed into a viable irradiation site (a serious limitation)
alternative at this juncture. whereupon the product is exposed to a
With the controversy about E. coli in The process involves bombarding stream of gamma rays produced by
hamburger meat, the subject of irradia- the product with ionized energy which cobalt-60. The Chicago Tribune (De-
tion has received considerable press. creates positive and negative charges cember 8, 1997) reported that Gray-
The fact is that irradiation has been an that damage large molecules critical to Star, a firm in Mt. Arlington, N.J., is
developing a unit capable of being in-
stalled on-site in a processing plant
Symptoms Target Populations Prevention
using cesium-137. The prototype is ex-
pected to be completed this year.
Incubation period: 2-5 days Almost all segments of Routine sanitation procedures for hand and
Diarrhea (either watery or sticky); the population, but utensil washing.
fever, abdominal pain, nausea,
headache, and muscle pain. Can be
children under 5 and
young adults (15-29
Cold foods should be kept at or below 40 F.
Cook ground poultry to uniform internal Steam
associated with arthritis and years old) are more temperature of 165 F; poultry, 170 F.
hemolytic uremic syndrome. frequently affected. Chlorination of water. Some data indicates Steam offers an alternative to irradi-
that it can be spread through drinking
water in a poultry flock. ation, but the problem is that it is not a
Incubation period: probably greater Pregnant women (20X Routine sanitation procedures for hand and
viable alternative for fresh product.
than 12 hours. more likely than other utensil washing. When chicken is exposed to steam for
Septicemia, meningitis, encephalitis healthy adults), Will grow in refrigerated temperatures and
and intrauterine or cervical infections. newborns, immuno- is fairly tolerant to freezing. as little as two seconds, the skin starts
Generally preceded by flu-like suppressed individuals, Cook ground poultry to uniform internal to cook. The mode of action involves
symptoms. cancer patients. temperture of 165 F; poultry, 170 F.
the steam coagulating the cells of the
Incubation period: 6-48 hours. All groups are Routine sanitation procedures for hand and pathogens, making them rigid and
Acute symptoms include nausea, susceptible, but utensil washing.
vomiting, abdominal cramping, fever, especially noteworthy Cold foods should be kept at or below 40 F. thereby killing them.
headache, and minal diarrhea. are elderly, infants and Cook ground poultry to uniform internal
infirmed. AIDS patients temperature of 165 F; poultry, 170 F.
are very susceptible.
Looking to the Future
Rapid and acute onset. All groups are Food handling and further processing by
Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, susceptible. hand are the areas of concern. Use Where does the industry go from
retching, abdominal cramping and stringent routines for hand washing and
prostration. In severe cases, sanitation under these conditions. here? Dr. Waldroup has stressed the
headaches, muscle cramping and idea that the key to addressing food
transient changes in blood pressure
and pulse rate may occur. safety today and in the future centers
on education. At the National Meeting
on Poultry Health & Processing she
EPEC: Watery or bloody diarrhea. EPEC: Commonly Routine sanitation procedures for hand and
EIEC: Mild form of dysentery. infants. utensil washing. stated, “Education will probably be the
ETEC: Watery diarrhea, abdominal EEIC: All populations. biggest factor to decreasing cases of
cramps, low-grade fever, nausea, ETEC: Infants and
malaise. travelers to foodborne illness.”
underdeveloped She points out that 82 percent of the
cases and 72 percent of the outbreaks
Severe cramping and diarrhea All populations are Routine sanitation procedures for hand and
(initially watery, becoming susceptible; larger utensil washing.
of foodborne illness occur outside of
bloody). Occasional vomiting; outbreaks have Cold foods should be kept at or below 40 F. the home. For society to attain the
low-grade or no fever. occurred in Cook ground poultry to uniform internal
Complications include hemolytic institutional settings. temperature of 165 F; poultry, 170 F. goals of a safe food supply, it is essen-
uremic syndrome (HUS). Reheat foods to 160 F or until steaming hot; tial that our educational system and the
keep hot foods above 140 F.
employers of food companies teach
k and Meat Board (http://www.agen.ufl.edu/~foodsaf); Iowa State University people to wash their hands and how to
keep food sufficiently cool or hot to
N ew l y A p p r ov e d B a c t e r i c i d e protect the public.
HACCP redefines how we look at
Applied in Misting Chamber poultry processing. Concurrent with
the focus on microbial detection
s Novus International received approval from USDA in January for its
Sanova Food Quality System for use in poultry processing. The new
system integrates the development of a new bactericide with an application
through processing, USDA is changing
its paradigm on equipment and au-
tomation approval. Says Jerry Dyer of
system in conjunction with the Provus process control technology. Automation Planners, Inc., “A combi-
Collaborating with the Redmond, Wash.-based company Alcide, Novus’s nation of the old and new technologies
program is based on the acidification of sodium chlorite. When chlorite is ex- focusing on providing a cleaner bird
posed to acid (in this case, citric acid), the resulting compound has strong ox- will be the answer for the future. In the
idizing properties that disrupt bacterial membrane function. It is important to past USDA has been slow to allow
note that the system kills microorganisms without the so-called Lazarus effect product innovation; but these attitudes
(that is, where the bacteria are simply injured but come back to life). Testing have changed. They are now encourag-
immediately after chemical application can give false readings that organisms ing it. The new rules open new avenues
are dead when, in reality, they have the ability to rebound which can be ob- for equipment technology. In fact, a lot
served a couple of days later. of the equipment now on the market
will become obsolete.
NaClO2 + H+ = HClO2 (Chlorous acid) “In the past,” Mr. Dyer continued,
The system involves positioning a misting chamber immediately prior to the “we had to approach everything we did
chiller, whereupon each bird is misted with 3-5 ounces of the bactericide hav- with a high degree of familiarity to
ing a concentration of about 1,000 ppm sodium chloride. USDA so it could be approved. Now
The program is an integrated one, whereby Novus provides the equipment we have a more open structure on what
and process control technology at no capital cost to the poultry processor. In the processes can be. True innovators
addition to providing the application system, the company’s Automated In- today will rise to the top, and the new
ventory Management System (AIMS) is incorporated. Through the process systems will combine equipment and
control technology, the system provides data which can help in compliance process control technology with an in-
with the new HACCP model. In addition to monitoring and controlling the creasing focus on providing cleaner
system, the technology monitors and documents performance of other key birds. That involves incorporating an-
processes in the facility, such as IOBW and chiller performance. timicrobials treatments with new ways
In the trials submitted to USDA, the true value of the product was that it uni- of eliminating exposure to contami-
formly reduced bacterial levels across a wide variety of flock contamination nants. In fact, our industry has proven
loads. The trials showed that the birds coming into the line varied greatly as to that when new technologies arise and
the potential for contamination. Traditional procedures generally lowered the are proven, they are rapidly incorporat-
contamination, but the spikes in finished product load were correlated with the ed into a increasingly complex process
initial bacterial load (see figure below). The Sanova system produced a flatter, of providing clean and safe products.”
consistently lower bacterial load. t Looking to the future, the poultry in-
dustry will have the opportunity to
adopt a number of technological im-
provements which are hitting the mar-
ket with increasing rapidity. HACCP
has changed the way the industry does
business. As with any change, it offers
headaches but also new opportunities.
While a zero tolerance is never attain-
able, the industry has new tools to ad-
dress the challenges. s
Charles Olentine, Ph.D., is publisher
of the Watt Publishing Poultry Group
and editorial director for the North
American Poultry Group.
Altekruse, S.F., M.L. Cohen and D.L.
Swerdlow. Emerging foodborne dis-
eases. Internet: http://www.cdc.gov/
O z o n e : A n O l d , B u t N ew, Te c h n o l o g y
s The antimicrobial effects of ozonation of water
have been clearly demonstrated, but its use in
poultry processing is in its infancy. The first applications
of this technology will be focused on the chiller, but
down the road its applications will spread throughout the
Savings through recycling and energy reduction.
American Water Purification (Wichita, Kan.) has devel-
oped a system that focuses on filtering chiller water,
treating the filtered water with ozone and then recycling
it to the chiller. The system leaves the original flow sys-
tem intact so that if the treatment unit goes off-line for
any reason, plant operation can continue. All of the
equipment in the process is located outside of the plant
with flow rates and levels fully automated. Company Figure 1. AWP flow diagram
President William Graham cites the new technology as a
way to combine effectively sanitizing the water, dramati-
cally lowering water consumption and reducing energy
consumption through the recycling of water that is al-
ready chilled, therein reducing the refrigeration require-
ments of the chilling system.
As far as investments and payback are concerned, Mr.
Graham explains that the system is based on a licensing
program, the cost of which is based on the water saved.
The system is currently being used in Gold Kist’s Car-
rollton plant as a pilot project. Gold Kist reportedly plans
to install the ozonation system in its Ellijay plant because
of a need to reduce the amount of waste water sent to the
city waste treatment plant.
Filtration with treatment. In January, BOC Gases
(Murray Hill, N.J.) introduced the Macron Loop system
which disinfects process water. Water from the chiller
bath is moved by a sanitary pump through the mechani-
cal filtration device (Macron filter) where particles as Figure 2. Before (right) and after (left): the filtration and
small as 25 microns are removed. Following filtration, treatment with ozone of chiller water with the AWP system
the water is injected with ozone gas and the sanitized
water is recirculated back to the chiller.
The system recycles water at a rate of 800 gallons per
minute, therein changing water over every half hour. The
system allows the processor to push through more water
while using less total water through recycling.
The BOC system was extensively tested during the ap-
proval process at the ConAgra plant in Gainesville, Ga.
Focusing on the final wash. A new technology cur-
rently being developed by Cooling & Applied Technolo-
gy (Russellville, Ark.) focuses on the final wash of the
birds in the processing line. Using the rationale that a
scrubbed bird is a clean bird, the technology essentially
uses water pressure (with ozonated water) to scrub the
carcass. This technology reflects the changing focus of
poultry processors to evaluate other areas of the line be-
yond the chiller. t Figure 3. BOC flow diagram
Russell, S.M. And J.M. Walker. 1997. Tamblyn, K.C., D.E. Connor, and S.F. Waldroup, A. 1997. Update on antimi-
The effect of evisceration on visible Bilgili. 1997. Utilization of skin at- crobials. National Meeting on Poultry
contamination and the microbiologi- tachment model to determine the an- Health and Processing. Paper and
cal profile of fresh broiler chicken tibacterial efficacy of potential car- oral presentation.
carcasses using the Nu-Tech eviscer- cass treatments. Poultry Sci. 76:1318.
ation system. Poultry Sci. 76:780.