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Process Improvements and Food Safety in Poultry and Egg Processing and Further Processing


<P>Poultry Meat Safety: Production, processing, and packaging safety of poultry meat, through bacterial intervention strategies. <br>Poultry Meat Quality: Improving meat quality through application of technologies and processes. <br>Egg Quality and Safety: To identify methods and procedures to improve and maintain the quality and safety of shell eggs and egg products. </P>

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<P>NON-TECHNICAL SUMMARY: The world poultry industry has maintained growth at unprecedented rates while consumer life styles and food preferences continue to change. Convenience foods that are consumer-friendly, affordable, nutritious, safe, and able to satisfy all of the basic consumer's quality preferences continue to direct the poultry industry's marketing path. To meet these needs, poultry producers and processors seeking to develop advanced production and processing technologies for use in producing consumer-oriented products. These changing technologies will require new basic knowledge about poultry production and processing efficiencies, and the safety, functional properties, and stability of poultry and egg products. This project is composed of three objective areas: 1. Poultry Meat Safety, 2. Poultry Meat Quality, 3. Egg Quality and Safety. The intent of this project is to efficiently use the capabilities of the resources at Texas A&M to achieve the project objectives that address current national and international priorities of improving consumer food safety and product acceptance, and the commercial profitability of poultry meat and eggs by solving critical problems related to the quality of poultry meat and eggs; specifically color, flavor, or texture of the product, and the safety of poultry meat and eggs; specifically pathogen colonization, contamination, decontamination. Poultry Meat Safety Outbreaks of foodborne illness continue to persist in the U.S. food supply even though it is considered one of the safest in the world. There are an estimated 60 to 80 million individuals who contract foodborne illness each year leading to approximately 3,000 deaths (CDC, 2012). The annual costs of foodborne illness in the U.S. are estimated at from $5 to $6 billion, including both medical costs and productivity losses. Poultry products have come under scrutiny over the past several years due to listeriosis outbreaks and product recalls of precooked ready-to-eat products. As a consequence, the FSIS has implemented a zero tolerance for Listeria monocytogenes in ready-to-eat products. Although FSIS instituted HACCP in 1996, food-borne illness continues to be a significant problem in consumers of poultry. Poultry processing plants throughout the U.S. are challenged by even lower FSIS Salmonella standards. Thus, the need to develop intervention strategies to aid in the elimination of pathogenic bacteria from the nation's food supply is a concern for both producers and consumers of poultry products. Moreover, USDA-FSIS has recently enacted Campylobacter standards. Many poultry companies are having difficulty meeting these standards as no field interventions exist for this pathogen. Removal and destruction of pathogens on the surfaces of poultry products are important links in the goal of producing pathogen-free products. Hence, new methods to reduce bacterial populations inherent to poultry products are needed while assuring that products reach the consumer in a wholesome state. Poultry Meat Quality Total U.S. per capita consumption of poultry meat has doubled in the past 40 years alone, increasing from 48 lbs in 1970 to nearly 100 lbs in 2013 with the majority (>60%) comprised of boneless meat. Today, approximately 90% of the market consists of parts and further processed products compared to only 20% in 1960. The demand for boneless breast meat has steadily increased over the past 30 years and is produced for many market segments including retail, foodservice, and further processing. Broilers are processed in a variety of weight ranges in order to meet specific customer needs, and the processing of large birds, 6-9 lb., is becoming increasingly popular. More recently, a greater percentage of boneless, skinless breast meat comes from the big bird market segment because of increased yields and pounds per man hour. The average live weight of birds in this segment is now around 7.6 lbs. (ranging 6-9 lbs), approximately a 15% increase over 10 years ago. This demand has been met in part by the poultry industry's aim to provide lean and convenient products and to focus on the further processed markets. Concerns about maintaining quality, color, flavor, and functionality of poultry products are continuing to be expressed by both the poultry processing industry and consumers, especially as growth rate and bird sizes (weights) have increased. Furthermore, consumer expectations for consistent quality are increasing while demands for convenience have resulted in processes, such as accelerated processing and precooking, that place severe strain on color, textural, and flavor because of incomplete resolution of rigor mortis and the tendency for poultry meat lipids to oxidize resulting in "warmed over flavors". Continuing prevalence of defective meat such as PSE and white striping conditions and failure to reduce the incidence and/or severity of those conditions will further reduce the efficiency and competitiveness of the U.S. poultry industry in the global poultry market. Current and future trends include the use of marination for the enhancement of meat quality, controlled atmosphere and low atmosphere stunning, chilling processes, stream-lined processing (minimal aging), portioning and packaging techniques. These trends have the potential to impact poultry meat quality positively or negatively. Currently in the U.S. food industry, there is a trend toward marinating poultry products as a way to add value to the product and/or to improve quality of early deboned meat or PSE-like meat. Popular and functional non-meat ingredients including soy protein, carrageenan, modified food starch, and fibers have been traditionally added to meat products to serve as extenders, binders, and fillers in emulsified and comminuted products. However, there is limited information on the ability of these non-meat ingredients to increase the water holding capacity of whole muscle products. Because these products are used to increase the water holding capacity in many blended food products, they may be effective in improving poultry deli loaves made with whole muscle poultry meat that exhibit the poo meat quality. If these ingredients can restore meat functionality, then yield losses currently incurred would dramatically diminish resulting in economic benefits to the industry. However, clean labels (limited ingredients, recognizable by consumers) are also in demand by consumers and therefore, processors. Using limited ingredients can result in continued poor meat quality characteristics in finished products if raw ingredients are of poor quality. Egg Quality and Safety Eggs are a significant agricultural commodity and an important portion of America's diet. Americans consumed approximately 248 eggs per capita annually, fueling a domestic egg industry that produced 78.5 billion eggs in 2010 (AEB, 2012). Improvements in the management, disease control, nutrition, and genetics of laying hens as well as advancements in egg processing technology over the past 50 years have changed today's egg quality, composition, and safety; yet few investigations have documented these changes. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration published a final rule to control Salmonella contamination and growth during egg production and through transportation (FDA, 2009). Egg producers with greater than 3,000 hens on site are held to the various requirements of the law. Updated research is needed to serve as a current baseline for evaluation of the application of the new regulations related to egg washing temperatures. In addition, research is needed to aid the egg processing industry to solve the technical problems that have hindered maintaining the consistent quality of the variety of egg products produced for today's market over the egg production cycle of the laying hens. </P>
<P>APPROACH: Poultry Meat Safety - Production, processing, and packaging safety of poultry meat, through bacterial intervention strategies- chemical, biological, thermal, engineering, and nutritional aspects. To test chemical (organic acids, acidified electrolyzed water, and new technologies) and natural alternatives as interventions for reduction and eliminating pathogenic (Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria) on processed poultry products. To identify and evaluate biological interventions, such as competitive exclusion or biologically derived molecules, for eliminating pathogenic bacteria from poultry processing equipment surfaces and products. To assess novel thermal, non-thermal, and chemical processes for the ability to eliminate pathogens and extend the shelf life of poultry products. To develop novel engineering and chemical approaches for producing safer poultry products. To assess dietary components and management practices that may decrease colonization and shedding of pathogens during the production of poultry. Poultry Meat Quality - Improving meat quality through application of technologies and processes. Meat tenderness: Evaluate changing processing procedures (shortened aging time), simplified instrumental techniques to assess tenderness, and methods to improve and maintain tenderness through physical or chemical means. Poor quality poultry meat: Reexamine processing procedures and correlate occurrence to focus on preventing the development and remediate PSE-like poultry meat. Establish the most effective approach in employing light reflectance and determine if digital images have further information that correlates to incidence. Technologies and processes: Verification of stunning, processing, air chilling, and other processes and their interactions with meat quality, including texture, color, flavor, water holding capacity, and blood splash. Establish a relationship between improved bird welfare and meat quality. To test chemical and natural alternatives as interventions for reduction and spoilage bacteria on processed poultry products.Egg Quality and Safety - To identify methods and procedures to improve and maintain the quality and safety of shell eggs and egg products. Identify strain and environmental factors associated with functionality deficiencies in egg products. Quantify the changes in functionality of eggs and the compositional changes in egg over the hen's egg production cycle. Assess the effectiveness of alternative sanitizing agents on shell eggs. Determine environmental and biological factors impacting the safety of eggs. Determine the applicability of imaging technology for assessing eggshell integrity and shell egg internal components and quality. </P>

Alvarado, Christine Z
Texas A&M University
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