WASHINGTON – A recent study by Agricultural Research Service (A.R.S.) scientists found that using a cleansing solution to wash eviscerated chicken carcasses was effective in removing bacteria that can cause human foodborne diseases, writes the agency’s Sharon Durham. The findings provide data that may be useful to poultry producers in designing practical, non-chlorine-based sanitizers.

The research was published in the
International Journal of Poultry Science.

Composed of lauric acid and potassium hydroxide, the cleanser could be used to sanitize chicken carcasses during processing prior to chilling. Since other countries do not use chlorine rinses, A.R.S. is looking at alternatives for them and is evaluating the most effective rinses against foodborne pathogens in poultry.

A.R.S. microbiologist Arthur Hinton Jr. and physiologists John Cason and R. Jeff Buhr conducted the study at the Richard B. Russell Research Center in Athens, Ga. They conducted a series of studies to determine the best way to use mixtures of lauric acid and potassium hydroxide to sanitize poultry carcasses.

Durham writes that in the first set of studies, carcasses were spray-washed with different concentrations of the lauric acid-potassium hydroxide combination. Results showed increasing the concentration of lauric acid to 2% and potassium hydroxide to 1% of the solution generally removed more bacteria from the broiler carcass. This means the concentration of the cleanser is an important consideration when utilizing it as a sanitizer.

Hinton and his colleagues used varying spray pressures (60, 100 and 150 lbs. per square inch) in another series of studies and found pressure did not have a significant effect on reducing bacterial contamination.

The effect of time on the ability of the spray-washing to reduce bacterial carcass contamination was later examined by the researchers. Increasing the amount of time the carcasses were sprayed from five to 15 or 30 seconds resulted in significantly reduced bacterial contamination, Hinton found.