Scientists Compare Carcass Decontamination Methods

SWITZERLAND - Post-slaughter interventions should be considered as part of a full food safety system, according to researchers from the University of Zurich, following a literature review. Their paper is published in Food Control.
calendar icon 24 November 2009
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The decontamination of poultry carcasses is gaining increased interest in Europe, especially because poultry is implicated as a risk factor in human campylobacteriosis. The authors – Loretz and co-authors at the University of Zurich, appraised the antibacterial activity of interventions applied on poultry carcasses.

Physical interventions included water-based treatments, irradiation, ultrasound, air chilling or freezing. The authors say that especially hot water, steam, electrolysed water (EW) and irradiation effectively reduced the bacterial load. Reductions obtained by hot water, steam and EW mainly ranged from 0.9 to 2.1, 2.3 to 3.8, and 1.1 to 2.3 orders of magnitude, respectively. However, hot water or steam might exert an adverse impact on the carcass appearance.

Chemical interventions primarily comprised organic acids, chlorine-based treatments or phosphate-based treatments, accoridng to Loretz and co-authors. Thereby, acetic and lactic acid, acidified sodium chlorite and trisodium phosphate mainly yielded reductions in the range from 1.0 to 2.2 orders of magnitude. Some combination treatments further enhanced the reductions. Organic matter often reduces the antimicrobial activity of chemicals.

Furthermore, biological interventions, e.g. bacteriophages, constitute promising alternatives but further investigations are required.

Although the interventions reduced the bacterial loads on poultry carcasses to some extent, decontamination treatments always must be considered part of an integral food safety system, the authors conclude.


Loretz M., R. Stephan and C. Zweifel. 2009. Antimicrobial activity of decontamination treatments for poultry carcasses: A literature survey. Food Control. doi:10.1016/j.foodcont.2009.11.007

Further Reading

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