Cutting campylobacter: Cargill installs SonoSteam

By Alice Foster

- Last updated on GMT

Cargill is set to introduce SonoSteam technology at Hereford plant
Cargill is set to introduce SonoSteam technology at Hereford plant

Related tags Food standards agency Cargill

Poultry processor Cargill is set to introduce cutting-edge SonoSteam technology as part of its battle against food poisoning bug campylobacter. 

The process, which uses steam and ultrasound to kill microorganisms, is expected to be operational at Cargill’s poultry processing hub in Hereford by the end of the year. 

Cargill Meats Europe fresh chicken director Chris Hall said the processor was “very excited”​ about working with Danish company Force Technology which has developed SonoSteam.

“We have been following the development of new technologies very closely and made the commitment that we would adopt one as soon as it proved effective,”​ Hall said.  

Force Technology vice president Niels Kreb said the new technology has already been used to process millions of birds in the UK. 

‘Front edge of innovation’

Cargill’s ‘farm to fork’ campylobacter plan

  • Focused initially on farms and primary processing
  • Half year results showed 38% year on year improvement
  • Installed £11M chiller and UV pack decontamination

“By installing this technology, Cargill has shown that they are at the front edge of innovation,” ​Kreb said.   

Last week the Food Standards Agency (FSA) published its final report on a year-­long campylobacter survey of supermarkets and butchers. It found that 73% of supermarket chickens tested positive. 

FSA director of policy Steve Wearne welcomed the introduction of the steam tool at the plant in Hereford. 

‘Innovative and effective way’

“SonoSteam is an innovative and effective way of reducing campylobacter levels and Cargill should be applauded for making this investment in the fight against the bug,” ​Wearne said. 

“We look forward to seeing lower levels of campylobacter on chickens sourced from Cargill on sale in shops and supermarkets.” ​ 

The company unveiled the plans to use SonoSteam after poultry giant Faccenda Foods launched the first UK continuous production line application of SonoSteam this year. 

In May Faccenda Foods told that its trials showed that SonoSteam can reduce campylobacter​ on neck and breast skin by about 80% or more. See the technology in action in our exclusive video filmed at Faccenda’s Northamptonshire site below.

Cargill has invested over £35M to upgrade the Hereford plant​ over the past two year. Investments include a £11M chiller and UV pack decontamination equipment to reduce campylobacter. 

Meanwhile, Cargill has acquired FMC’s pectin plant​ in Sicily for an undisclosed amount in a bid to strengthen its texturising portfolio.

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