MEAT & POULTRY SPOTLIGHT By Dianna V. Bourassa, Ph.D.
Antimicrobial Use in Poultry Processing
Processing aids are used in the production of many foods including poultry. Antimicrobials are a processing aid used to reduce foodborne pathogen contamination, thereby enhancing
product food safety. The specific parameters
for antimicrobial use in the production of
poultry products are described in the U.S. Department of
Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS)
Directive 7120.1 Rev. 43 (October 5, 2017).
Antimicrobials can be used during multiple steps of poultry processing to create a multi-hurdle approach to minimizing contamination. These steps include prescald brushing,
scalding, defeathering, evisceration, on- and off-line reprocessing, carcass washing at multiple steps in the process, chilling and post-chill treatment. While some efficacy has been
demonstrated, antimicrobials are generally not applied in the
initial steps from slaughter, scalding and defeathering due to
added costs and low overall benefit. Most processing plants
apply antimicrobials during equipment spraying, carcass washing, reprocessing, immersion chilling and post-chill treatment.
To determine efficacy of antimicrobials during each step of
A Closer Look at the Process
the process and to ensure process controls,
processing plant biomapping should be con-
ducted regularly. Developing plant biomaps
can alert plant managers to any potential pro-
cess issues and help processors decide which
antimicrobials are most effective and at which
sites in the process they have the greatest benefit.
Following the birds’ arrival at the processing plant and
slaughter, an optional brush wash cabinet may be used to
remove organic material in combination with a chlorinated
water spray. Removing organic material at this stage can help
reduce the amount of fecal material entering the scald tank.
Feathered carcasses are then scalded in hot water to aid in
feather removal. Antimicrobial treatments can be added to
scald water, but this poses several challenges. High water temperatures can lead to off-gassing of antimicrobials, and the
high organic load may bind and deactivate antimicrobials.
The use of sulfuric acid, ammonium sulfate and copper sulfate
in scald water has been suggested to decrease aerobic plate
A look at effective
aids in poultry