A Linde group subsidiary claims technology it developed with Bernard Matthews can slash Campylobacter rates.
Rapid Surface Chilling was developed by Linde's UK subsidiary, BOC, and Bernard Matthews, a turkey farmer and supplier.
It involves swift chilling of the surface of the poultry using a cryogenic vapour and was created in collaboration with FSA and Campden BRI, a UK food and beverage R&D organisation.
Linde Gases, a division of The Linde Group, said positive results from trials of the cryogenic technology could enable the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to meet its 2015 Campylobacter reduction targets.
The current prototype machine is industrial scale and the process is approved for use as long as it complies with current poultry meat marketing regulations.
If large scale tests are successful, a commercial machine will be developed which will be capable of operating at full-line speed continuously and will be available to rent from BOC around mid-2014.
FSA admitted recently that “no progress” had been made in reducing the pathogen in chicken and that it kills around 110 people each year.
Results of many batch tests over the three year development programme show that the campylobacter bacteria are killed and do not re- grow, said the firm.
To date it has achieved an average of 90% reduction of campylobacter bacteria count (1 log to base 10 reduction) with the process not affecting the taste, texture, appearance or weight of the chicken.
FSA's 2015 target is to reduce the numbers of birds carrying the highest levels of contamination from 27% of the total population slaughtered in the UK - more than 800 million a year - to 10%.
Lack of solution
Nathan Palmer, business director, bulk and cylinder gases, BOC, said that within EU legislation there is no conventional technology or process intervention found to be effective at reducing Campylobacter.
“The use of chemical washes is not currently allowed and they may effect the appearance, texture or taste of the chicken at the high concentrations required to kill campylobacter,” he told FoodQualityNews.com.
“They may also generate waste to treat or dispose of, and the chemical will still be present as a residue when purchased by the consumer.”
An EU food and waterborne disease report also found Campylobacter was on the rise .
“If the results of the trials continue to go well, then the technology could be applied widely to all raw chicken processing across the UK and EU,” said Palmer.
“According to the FSA campylobacter strategy paper 2013, this reduction could lead to 50-90% reduction in human infection. This could equate to a financial saving of between £250m to £700m a year to the NHS in the UK, and considerably more across the EU.”