FAQs on cleaning and disinfection in the poultry industry

Ensuring perfect hygiene in the poultry industry is crucial, especially in slaughterhouses and poultry cutting plants. To achieve this, it is important to apply strategies to control pathogenic microorganisms to ensure that poultry meat is safe for the consumer, as well as to reduce the presence of microorganisms that reduce the shelf life of the products.

In this post, we answer key questions about cleaning and disinfection processes in the poultry industry.

In the cleaning and disinfection of areas in a poultry slaughterhouse: is it better to use a single type of disinfectant, or vary it according to the area or CCP?
The appearance of resistance to disinfectants is more difficult than that observed with antibiotics. However, it can be convenient to alternate biocide active materials to avoid certain resistances or adaptation of microorganisms to residual doses of certain biocides. There are elements of the slaughterhouse with greater soiling where it may be convenient to use biocidal active ingredients with greater residual action or that are inhibited to a lesser extent in the presence of soiling. In other cases, what is interesting is to use disinfectants with low residual action and easy to rinse.

How much drying time should be left between cleaning and disinfection, both in the shed and in the slaughterhouse?
The drying time depends on the concentration of the disinfectant and the surface that has been wetted. Ideally, when the disinfectant is applied, there should be no previous wetting, because if this is the case, the disinfectant is being diluted. For example, on a belt, in one complete turn practically all the water has already been expelled and the disinfectant could already be applied.

Is a final rinse recommended after disinfection?
There are many areas in which it is not necessary to perform this rinse, it depends on the type of industries and the conditions in which you are going to work. The legislation says that those surfaces that are going to come into direct contact with food must be rinsed. Water should not be applied to the upper areas once the lower areas have been disinfected and rinsed, as it can drip from there and the lower parts can be recontaminated. Afterwards, special attention should be paid to drying. The elimination of moisture prevents the proliferation of those pathogens that have survived the hygiene tasks.

In the scalder, would combining high temperatures with disinfectants increase or inhibit the effect of the disinfectant?
There are biocidal active substances such as amines that do not produce foam and can be used perfectly well under these conditions. Temperature is a favorable agent for further optimization of the product. It is desirable because it combines the power of the disinfectant with the effect of the temperature. A CIP treatment at 80 °C with an amine is recommended. For other types of products, such as peracetic acid-based disinfectants, it is not advisable to go above 40 or 45 °C. It is necessary to think first of all about the type of active material used in the scalders. Not all of them are suitable. The type of scalder must also be taken into account. Special attention should be paid to those with diffusers at the bottom because organic matter is usually introduced into them and when steam is injected through the bottom all these particles are put back into the environment. These tubes must be cleaned very well and disinfected. It is necessary to indicate that in the plates that give heat there are not usually many incrustations. In summary, it is necessary to see how each scalder is and to apply the most suitable process according to its situation.

On farms as in poultry industries, how can pipes be controlled as a source of contamination?
It is necessary to do a good cleaning and disinfection. Almost as if it were a CIP. An alkaline phase, an acid phase and a third disinfection phase. It is also possible to visualize the interior with cameras to see if there is dirt and to analyze the final rinse water. Another recommended action is to carry out a biofilm control plan.

Cleaning the eviscerator is very complicated due to its design. Trying to perform a mechanical action is complex. What is the alternative of mechanical action? Is it possible to work with high pressure?
Water under high pressure should not be used so as not to spread contamination. A good scrubbing of the installations and tools that come into contact with the carcass is recommended. The use of a degreasing product and hot water is also recommended. However, it is recommended to apply a manual operation with high frequency, even if not every day.

Listeria monocytogenes-Poultry hygiene-Christeyns

Should Listeria spp. be tested frequently in slaughterhouses and cutting plants?
Yes, frequent testing should be done as it provides information on the microbial load of poultry on arrival from the farm. With the information derived from the analyses, it is possible to know how the internal hygiene and production protocols are working, detect any type of persistence and prevent Listeria spp. from reaching the next link in the chain.

What are the most sought-after pathogenic microorganisms in drains?
In drains, the most sought-after pathogen is Listeria spp. They are a reservoir for Listeria spp. The first rinse that is done in the room goes to the drain. If the drain is not cleaned properly, the use of pressurized water for cleaning and disinfection can generate splashes and aerosols and re-spread pathogens on the surfaces of the facility.

What is the main factor for the continued high incidence and spread of Campylobacter spp in poultry?
In regulation 1495/2017 it seems clear that vertical transmission is minimal. During the first two weeks of the broiler it is very difficult to detect Campylobacter spp. The problem occurs in the third week of life because previously there is a maternal immunity that protects them. This disappears in the third week and cases of Campylobacter spp. appear. The origin can be in the surfaces because they have not been well cleaned and disinfected, or in the environment and in the vectors of the shed and surroundings. Campylobacter spp. once it enters the facilities, in four or five days it contaminates the whole flock of birds. The dispersion speed within a flock is much higher than that of Salmonella spp. because it is a pathogen very adapted to poultry.

How can Pseudomonas spp. loads on surfaces and environments be eliminated?
Applying a correct cleaning and disinfection protocol and with the indicated products, at the usual concentrations, Pseudomonas spp. loads can be eliminated. In case they are inserted in a biofilm, it is necessary to rub on it, as long as the biofilm is incipient; or to apply a product, for example in enzymatic base, in case it is mature. Subsequently, it is necessary to proceed to disinfection.

For the control of Salmonella in poultry slaughterhouses, are there other strategies to be carried out in the previous stages of the production chain?
The presence of Salmonella in poultry carcasses, quartering products and processed products is a problem that should cover the entire production chain, since when positive counts are obtained in the slaughterhouse, the actions to be taken are limited. Specific cleaning and disinfection strategies can be implemented, such as the use of products against biofilms, aerial disinfection of surfaces, extreme hygiene in all elements (hooks, scalder, pluckers, erc), this will minimize and reduce the transfer, but does not guarantee its absence. Therefore, the arrival of Salmonella with live birds and cages should be avoided as much as possible, implementing biosecurity measures in farms and hatcheries, even in feed production: cleaning and disinfection, access control, pest control, avoiding vertical transmission, use of additives in feed, water treatment, disinfection of live cages, etc.

Biofilms-Poultry hygiene_Christeyns

Biofilm removal is part of the disinfection strategy. Which disinfectants and at what dosage are the most appropriate, taking into account the material of the surfaces? Can glutaraldehyde be used?
Biofilm removal can be achieved by using different products. Enzymatic or chemical based products can be used. In any case, this process will be completed with a second disinfection phase in which products based on: peracetic acid, quaternary ammoniums, glutaraldehyde, all of them products advocated in BPR for surface disinfection, can be used. A three-phase process is recommended for the safe removal of biofilms, with a good alkaline pre-cleaning and treatment against biofilm removal.

The usual recommended doses are: alkaline products are usually between 5-10% and the alkaline pH is above 12. The concentration of chlorine removes proteins, has a biocidal effect, at 1%. In areas that are difficult to clean, a biofilm detection test with the product TBF 300 is recommended. Chlorinated products are used on plastics, as a bleaching effect. For the rest of the surfaces they are not recommended because of their oxidizing power.

For the reduction and elimination of biofilms, could natural compounds and terpenoids be an effective alternative or complement to synthetic disinfectants?
There is research that indicates so. There are natural compounds such as terpenoids, polyphenols, organic acids and essential oils, whose compounds inhibit the formation of biofilms. But when the biofilm is already mature, it is necessary to apply mechanical energy, which disintegrates the matrix, and products suitable for its elimination.

Is it possible to block communication between bacteria in a biofilm?
Yes, there are some published articles that recognize that certain molecules antagonistic to the autoinducers used by the bacteria in quorum sensing can be used to neutralize such communication. If we inhibit quorum sensing we break the communication between the bacteria and inhibit the formation of biofilms. The problem is that quorum sensing will be different depending on the bacteria nesting in the biofilm, which requires knowledge of the type of biofilm, type of autoinducers, as well as the type of molecules that can be antagonists to interfere with this communication.

Phago - Poultry Hygiene - - ChristeynsWhat is the use of bacteriophages and probiotics in farm disinfection?
Bacteriophages are very specific. A cocktail of them would have to be used to achieve their efficacy, although previously a phagogram should be available to see if it is sensitive or not. However, they cannot be used repeatedly to prevent the bacterium from becoming resistant to that particular phage. It is true that with the use of these phages, resistance or the appearance of properties that the bacterium did not have before can be generated. They should be used as a last defense after other strategies. It is necessary to try to eradicate these problems with other tools such as: biosecurity, cleaning, disinfection, applying additives to the animals so that they are not carriers of diseases.

Regarding the use of lactic flora, it is true that there are some products used for disinfection based on this type of microorganisms. Probiotics are applied to surfaces to colonize and implement competitive exclusion. They colonize the entire environment and displace pathogens that are in the environment. First you disinfect and then colonize with the desired microorganisms.

What relevant information can we obtain from metagenomic analysis in the poultry industry?
Metagenomics is a tool that in the near future will replace traditional microbiology; it is the microbiology of the future. The information obtained is very broad, although it is necessary to know how to interpret it. The main advantage of metagenomics is that it is capable of detecting all the bacterial species present in an environmental sample.

In the European Union, disinfection of chicken carcasses with disinfectants is not allowed, but could chlorine dioxide be used in the chiller and prechiller?
In the EU, ClO2 could be used if it is at the dose at which the water is purified. If it is in concentrations higher than allowed by the legislation, it is prohibited.

To what extent is the training of operators and food handlers important?
The training of operators is fundamental, they must know the importance of their work on the quality of the final product, know the products and protocols. In addition, it is important that they receive information about the critical points of the facility, where biofilms can form and be niches of Listeria. In these areas, daily manual scrubbing will be important, as well as the use of specific protocols.

For their part, food handlers should be aware of their influence in the prevention of cross-contamination, and in their personal hygiene, since there are certain food poisonings that can be attributed, in many cases, to the handlers themselves, such as that caused by Staphylococcus aureus.

Innovation - Poultry industry - Christeyns

To what extent is environmental disinfection important?
Rather than environmental disinfection, we should speak of disinfection of surfaces and airborne environments. Since the number of microorganisms will be reduced in the environment of a room if it remains closed for a period of time, due to sedimentation processes. The important thing with this type of disinfection is to reach elements of the installation that are not usually disinfected by the traditional spraying system: hidden areas, elevated elements (e.g. evaporators). These points can be niches of pathogenic microorganisms and biofilms, and from there, by condensation, air currents, etc., reach elements in direct contact with food or the products themselves.

For this type of disinfection, nebulizers can be used with biocides formulated with quaternary ammoniums, tertiary amines, hydrogen peroxide, glutaraldehydes,…

When an increase in environmental humidity is not desirable, for example, in feed silos, packaging rooms, etc., products with active ingredients such as glycolic acid can be used. These are pre-dosed cans for specific volumes.


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Team CHRISTEYNS Food Hygiene

Company specialized in food safety with headquarters Belgium. With more than 25 years of experience, we offer innovative and effective solutions to the specific hygiene problems of food factories, as well as livestock farms, through a wide range of products, equipment and services designed for the proper cleaning and disinfection of facilities.

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