New study confirms no association between higher line speeds and increased food safety risks

A new study that was pre-published on October 20 in the journal, Poultry Science, analyzed data collected from July 2018 through July 2019 from 97 broiler slaughter establishments to evaluate the relationship, if any, between slaughter line speeds across establishments operating under the same inspection system and frequencies of positive Salmonella samples. This is the first study to provide recent survey data assessing line speed and Salmonella contamination rates on chicken carcasses.

The research concluded that the presence of Salmonella or other indicators of process control, such as non-compliance records for regulations associated with process control and food safety, are not significantly increased in establishments with higher line speeds (e.g., above 140 birds per minute) compared to establishments with lower line speeds when establishments are operating under the conditions present in this study.

“This study confirms what we have known for a long time,” said Ashley Peterson, Ph.D., NCC senior vice president of scientific and regulatory affairs. “Food safety outcomes are not determined by the speed of the evisceration line. They are determined by adhering to HAACP plans that are science-based and data-driven, utilizing robust and proven intervention strategies, ongoing microbial testing and monitoring, maintaining and demonstrating process control, and ultimately, federal inspection. The data show this approach is working.”

According to USDA’s most recent posting of categories for large broiler establishments, almost 95% of the industry is meeting the FSIS performance standard for Salmonella on whole broiler carcasses. Similarly, almost 94% of large broiler establishments are meeting the FSIS performance standard for Salmonella on chicken parts.

The full study is available by clicking here.

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