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Research: Up throughput in broiler processing

A research project financed by the Dutch Poultry Processing Industry was carried out to confirm the possibility of increasing the line speed in broiler processing plants from 6,000 to 7,500 b/h or from 9,000 to 12,000 b/h, respectively, without or with a line splitter at the inspection deck.

With a full line occupation and other “normal” conditions at each of the line speeds to be investigated, the investigations focused on three main subjects: the effect of increased line speed on quality of veterinary inspection (whole or parts of the carcass or individual organs). Veterinary inspectors were monitored during various sessions at each line speed, line speed and number of carcasses were registered; the effects of increased line speed on ergonomics and labour conditions of veterinary inspectors and other workers on the processing line, and; internal plant quality was tested at increased line speed (e.g. faecal contamination, product temperature, animal welfare etc.)

Several conclusions and recommendations were reached:

1 - Increasing the line speed does not interfere with the results of veterinary inspection, the types of miss-interpretation were comparable at different line speeds.

2 - Protocols have to be clear for workers, and prior knowledge of broiler flocks quality offered for slaughter will enable adjustments to be made during processing.

3 - The inspection deck should be in optimal condition.

4 - Although both, physical and mental work load increases, risks can be reduced by taking additional measures.

5 - Increasing in throughput rate did not have a detrimental effect on animal welfare or end product quality.

New applicants should describe the working conditions on their processing line, which will be subjected to an independent examination. When this examination provides satisfactory results, the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority can decide to permit a scheduled step-wise and closely monitored increase in line speed.

Source: N. Bolder, Central Veterinary Institute, Wageningen UR, Lelystad, the Netherlands, and C. Pieterse, H. Reimert and Th. Uijttenboogaart

Natalie Berkhout

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