HACCP / HACCP and poultry

HACCP and poultry

HACCP on broiler farms and in processing plants

Live birds being sent off for slaughter carry large numbers of micro-organisms on their feet, feathers and skin, and in their intestines. During the slaughter process, the birds are killed, bled, scalded and plucked, before the viscera are removed and the carcasses spray-washed and chilled. Then, the carcasses are either sent to the portioning department, used for further processing or they leave the processing plant as packaged, whole carcasses. Several stages are critical in controlling microbial contamination of products and / or equipment. Stress incurred by transportation and live-bird handling causes an increased shedding of pathogenic micro-organisms, if present. The increased shedding may cause additional contamination of processed products and equipment. Effective cleaning and disinfection of the transport crates and containers is therefore necessary after each journey.

Modern poultry processing involves high slaughter capacities of 10.000 or more birds per hour and, depending on the degree of mechanisation and automation, several stages are critical to microbiological control. Conditions during catching, transport and holding of birds at the slaughterhouse, scalding, plucking, evisceration and chilling are considered critical processes in terms of the HACCP concept. However, technological improvements in the process may help to facilitate control of microbial contamination. There are new developments in multi-stage scalding, plucking, evisceration technology and the automatic cleaning and disinfection of equipment, by which microbial contamination can be controlled or reduced. These developments pose the question of if any, what limits should be acceptable for the microbiological quality of carcasses at different CCPs?

In EU no critical limits are defined for general microbial load of fresh poultry or poultry meat products, except for the Salmonella load of these products (EU 2073/2005).
Some companies have their own critical limits for the slaughter process, which sometimes are linked to their HACCP or other QA system. The main focus is on food safety, but product quality criteria may be included.



Example of a HACCP plan for broiler farms and processing plants        
Step CCP Hazard (source) Preventive measure Limits Monitoring Corrective action Doc. ref.
Chicks history CCP 1 Disease carriers. Poultry from certified sources.   Flock sourcing. Notify authority. Hatchery certificate.
Feed and storage CCP 2 Product contamination due to pathogens and medication misuse. Feed from certified sources   Feed sampling. Reject source, alternative supply. Delivery document, storage record.
and produced under certified conditions.
Water and storage CCP 2 Pathogens in potable water. Clean supply and protected storage. Local regulation. Water sampling. Upgrade water source, inform supplier. Test report.
Catching and transport CCP 2 Shedding of pathogens through stress. Application of feed and water withdrawal   Testing for cleaning and disinfection, visible inspection. Cleaning and disinfection of equipment, instruction of farmers. Production chart.
   
Cleaning and disinfection of transport vehicles.  
Scalding and plucking CCP 2 Cross contamination during the process. Sufficient water supply, cleaning and disinfection.   Water and product sampling, testing for cleaning and disinfection. Instruction of management, cleaning and disinfection. Processing chart.
 
 
Evisceration CCP 2 Cross contamination through equipment and gut breakage. Cleaning and disinfection during processing.   Product sampling, testing for cleaning and disinfection. Instruction of management, cleaning and disinfection. Processing chart.
 
 
Chilling CCP 2 Cross contamination, (water and air-borne). Sufficient water supply, cleaning and disinfection of evaporators.   Water and product sampling, testing for cleaning and disinfection. Instruction of management, cleaning and disinfection. Processing chart, records of water temperature and water usage.
 
 
 
 
Cutting CCP 2 Cross contamination, through equipment. Cleaning and disinfection of cutting equipment.   Product sampling, testing for cleaning and disinfection. Instruction of management, cleaning and disinfection. Processing chart.
 
 
Packaging CCP 1 Contaminated packaging materials. Visual check, proper storage. EU Directive.   Reject product, alternative supply. Processing chart.