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October 1, 2020 | by Sam Shafer
Fresh poultry products can be a source of microbes such as Salmonella. To lower the risk of foodborne illness, many poultry producers treat products with sanitizing agents like chlorine compounds, trisodium phosphate and organic acids. The problem is that common sanitizing agents can be corrosive to processing equipment and there is a risk that some could generate chemical by-products.
Neutral electrolyzed water (NEW) is one possible alternative to common sanitizing agents. NEW is made through the electrolysis of chloride-containing water. This process produces compounds in the water that can kill microbes.
In a new study in the Poultry Science Association’s Journal of Applied Poultry ResearchⓇ, a team of Mexican scientists report that NEW can be a safe and sustainable alternative to current sanitizing agents. Although past studies supported NEW’s effectiveness as an antimicrobial agent, the new investigation focuses specifically on its use on broiler chickens and shows that NEW, when used in approved quantities, does not generate toxic chemicals called trihalomethanes.
For the new study, the researchers compared the use of NEW to a commercial brand of NaClO disinfectant in freshly processed broiler chickens. They showed that NEW is just as effective as NaClO in halting the growth of two species of Salmonella. The researchers also noted that NEW was 10 times more effective than NaClO at inhibiting growth in a pure Salmonella culture.
The researchers also took a closer look at NEW’s mechanism of action. Using a scanning electron microscope, the researchers showed that the compounds in NEW break down bacterial cell membranes at a concentration lower than NaClO. A follow-up analysis using fluorescence microscopy confirmed that NEW leads to membrane damage in Salmonella cells.
The researchers then used chicken legs and broiler chicken carcasses to test trihalomethane levels after NEW application. They did not detect any trihalomethane after using 50 mg/L of NEW or NaClO treatments. This is significant because the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) allows NEW doses of less than or equal to 50 mg/L for sanitizing poultry.
The next step in this research is to test NEW’s safety and effectiveness in whole chicken carcasses under commercial processing conditions.
What does this study mean for producers?
The full paper, titled “Effect of neutral electrolyzed water as antimicrobial intervention treatment of chicken meat and on trihalomethanes formation,” can be found in the Journal of Applied Poultry ResearchⓇ and online here.
Categories: Interpretive Summary