Effectively sanitizing in any type of food processing facility can be difficult, but poultry processing equipment comes with a particular set of challenges. The equipment used in raising, processing, and packaging poultry must be regularly sanitized in order to prevent contamination and a potential food-borne pathogen outbreak. The risks associated with an outbreak have lasting negative consequences for food brands, which is why it is so important to mitigate as many of them as possible through daily sanitation.
Consider these factors when creating and adapting your sanitation protocols for poultry processing equipment.
According to the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, more poultry companies are doing all of the processing on farms than ever before, especially for farmer’s markets and local distributors. Some of the biggest challenges on-farm processors face include:
- Heat during the summer months
- The presence of vermin in equipment storage areas
- Access to sufficient potable water
- Maintaining transition zones between dirty and clean areas
- The presence of flies and other insects
- Having sufficient drainage to prevent standing water
- Maintaining proper temperatures during storage, transport, and handling
Implementing daily sanitation protocols in addition to those required during processing will help ensure that equipment and surfaces maintain safe levels of bacteria and reduce the risk of biofilm formation. Using timed foamers in transition zones will also help prevent cross-contamination from footwear and mobile equipment. Truck wash is also used on farms to make sure no contaminants are brought in from outside.
Managing Equipment Sanitation
Poultry that is not processed on farms is still at risk of contamination in a conventional processing facility. Facilities that do not use clean-in-place systems require some equipment to be disassembled. After all equipment parts and surfaces have been cleaned and sanitized, they are inspected and reassembled. Some of the challenges related to this process include:
- Moving equipment and tables to access hard-to-reach areas
- Applying spray or foam to every inch in the facility, including walls and ceilings
- Ensuring that sanitizers stay on surfaces for the recommended contact times
- Ensuring that no contamination occurs during reassembly
- Addressing multiple types of surfaces, such as metal, rubber, and so on
- Protecting delicate equipment
Some of the ways to mitigate these challenges include:
- Choosing chemicals with low toxicity and corrosive properties
- Using a clinging foam to see where sanitizer has been applied
- Requiring personnel to change clothes and put on fresh gloves before reassembly
Modern technology has allowed some poultry processors to use clean-in-place systems that use a combination of heat, water, and chemicals to sanitize equipment without disassembly. Although this has increased efficiency, there are still challenges related to sanitation, such as:
- Choosing the right chemicals to address all types of debris and bacteria
- Preventing buildup in pipes and tubing
- Inspecting interior surfaces
- Preventing the growth of biofilms
To help overcome these challenges, use chemicals that address a range of bacteria, and rotate them to reduce the risk of bacterial resistance. Select a sanitizer that removes biofilms without the need for mechanical action to treat interior surfaces.
Sanitation of poultry processing equipment can be done in a number of ways. Although each of them comes with certain benefits, they also present unique challenges. Understanding these challenges is the first step to addressing them. Working with a partner like Decon7 can help you identify and address the biggest contamination risks in your poultry processing facility. Read our case study to learn more about how we worked with one poultry processor to reduce contamination, save money, and increase production capacity at the same time.