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A New Way for Chicken To Come Clean


Former Agricultural Research Service (ARS) agricultural engineer Andra Dickens and microbiologist Arthur Hinton, Jr., tested a new chemical solution that reduces enteric pathogen counts in poultry.

The scientists, from the Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center in Athens, Georgia, tested the chemical, known as Safe2O Poultry Wash, for its inventor, Mionix Corp., a biotechnology company based in California. Dickens recently retired from the lab.

When used as a prechill application, Safe2O reduced numbers of Salmonella, Campylobacter, E. coli, and Listeria. Used as a postchill treatment, it increased the shelf life of wings by 3 days.

Safe2O is a low-pH, calcium sulfate-based solution composed of Generally Recognized As Safe chemicals. It has been approved by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) for use as a prechill treatment for broilers. FDA has also approved it as a postchill treatment, and FSIS is currently reviewing it for that use. Tests have revealed that Safe2O is more effective as a postchill treatment.

Dickens and Hinton have also tested the solution for a Texas-based poultry producer, Pilgrim's Pride. Safe2O was sprayed both prechill, with an inside/outside washer, and postchill. Not only were pathogens reduced, especially Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Listeria, but the number of spoilage microorganisms was also decreased. Shelf life of wings was extended to 9 days when the meat was sprayed postchill.

Since the chemical could be used prechill with an inside/outside washer, processors would not have to retool any of their current machinery or procedures.

Safe2O can be used with less water than another common pathogen reducer, trisodium phosphate (TSP), and poses fewer environmental concerns.

"Some processing plants spray carcasses with an 8- to 12-percent TSP solution to remove fecal material and associated microorganisms before chilling," says Dickens. "The higher pH produced by TSP requires the chiller water to be treated with acid to bring the water back to a pH level at which bactericidal activity of the chlorine in the water can be effective. But then the phosphates from the overflow water must be removed before entering the sewer system in most municipalities.

"Safe2O could be a viable alternative to TSP without the problems associated with phosphate disposal and reacidification of the chiller water."—By Sharon Durham, Agricultural Research Service Information Staff.

Arthur Hinton, Jr., is in the USDA-ARS Poultry Processing and Meat Quality Research Unit, Richard B. Russell Agricultural Research Center, 950 College Station Rd., Athens, GA 32604; phone (706) 546-3621, fax (706) 546-3633.

"A New Way for Chicken To Come Clean" was published in the October 2004 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.



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