Faccenda’s steam tool cuts campylobacter by 80%

By Rod Addy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Food safety Food standards agency Campylobacter

Faccenda Foods has achieved 80% campylobacter reductions in its whole chickens and plans to launch the first UK continuous production line application of SonoSteam, which enabled that, for Asda in June.

In this exclusive video, md Andy Dawkins told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “We believe SonoSteam can reduce campylobacter on neck and breast skin by approximately 80% or more.

“We’ve started to run for longer periods of time to ensure that the upstream and downstream process is tested with different bird weights and different times of the day and different times of the shift pattern in the week.

“All worked effectively and now we’re confident we can run continuously, so before the end of June we will run that line continuously and then use that opportunity to further refine the process.”

He explained the microbiological results, verified by Intertek Foods UK, were the fruit of nine months of trials last year in Denmark with Force Technology, the company behind SonoSteam. That was then followed by further batch trials at Faccenda’s Brackley plant in Northamptonshire.

‘Lots of testing’

“We had to work hard to optimise the duration of, and temperature at, application, pressure of the steam, location of steam nozzles, the condition of the bird going in, the action of the process in-line, so processes upstream and downstream continue to run smoothly and efficiently,”​ Dawkins said. “That took us over a series of seven or eight trials and lots of testing.”

Before committing to SonoSteam, Faccenda had looked at rapid surface chilling (RSC), work which Bernard Matthews then continued.

In contrast to RSC, which cryogenically chills the surface of poultry using vapour delivered at -196o​C, SonoSteam applies ultrasound to disrupt the protective film layer shielding campylobacter microbes, simultaneously targeting them with steam. The process takes just 1.5 seconds.

Food poisoning

Dawkins stressed that the technology should be used alongside a complete supply chain approach to stamp out campylobacter contamination, the biggest UK cause of food poisoning. A range of methods was needed, from the treatment of birds in hatcheries onwards, he said.

The Joint Working Group on campylobacter has united retailers, manufacturers, farmers and others on several different projects to tackle the problem.

The Food Standards Agency’s 2015 target is to reduce the numbers of birds carrying the highest levels of contamination from 27% of the total slaughtered in a year – more than 800M – to 10%.

According to nine-month data to the end of February, an average of 73% of shop-bought whole raw chickens tested positive for campylobacter.

  • Faccenda will be presenting the latest results of its work with SonoSteam at Food Manufacture Group’s annual Food safety conference, ‘Safer food and drink – from the harvest to home’, at the Lowry hotel in Manchester on September 29. For more information, visit the FoodManEvents website​ or call 01293 610354.

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