Optimising Slaughter Hygiene in Poultry


More than 63 million chicken are slaughtered annually in Norway. A chick weighs about 40 g when day old and growth to about 1,5 – 2 kg of live weight in about 30 – 35 days.

The low microbial status of Norwegian slaughtered poultry makes them among the best in the world due to being Salmonella-free and low prevalence of Campylobacter. Yet, the Norwegian poultry producers and industry are interested in even making hygiene of a better standard. This is to be achieved through taking corrective measures to reduce further the prevalence of Campylobacter, E. coli and the various bacteria that lower the shelf life of fresh poultry products. It will be of value to all stakeholders to increase the shelf life.

The project aims to identify areas with critical importance for the slaughter hygiene and recommend the ‘best practice’ for poultry slaughter hygiene. The project will also look into the available literature on use of decontamination methods for slaughtered poultry.

Project participants in addition to Animalia are: Nortura, KLF, Den Stolte Hane, and Norsk Kylling.

Project objectives:

a)    Literature Review, with the aim to collect information on slaughter hygiene and methods for slaughter in Norway and abroad and also to survey the available decontamination methods. Main focus is on slaughtered chicken.

b)    Enhance the knowledge base of the poultry companies so that they take better decisions in the challenges they face, which may eventually result in changing current practices: This includes among other issues: 

  • Find out the most cost-effective methods and measures to optimize the hygienic quality of fresh poultry products and develop assessing criteria and methods
  • Increase the shelf life, reduce pathogen risks, reduce the transmission of antibiotic resistant bacteria
  • Collect scientific-based information on alternative methods to reduce the level of Campylobacter in slaughtered chicken to the level that is achieved by freezing to three weeks, and with a lower cost than is today.
  • Achieve a broader flexibility in managing farms with positive Campylobacter.

Status so far:

A report on slaughtering, slaughter hygiene and decontamination has been sent to all participating organizations. It was also suggested to develop a national guideline on poultry slaughter.

Three meetings have been held for the quality managers in those organizations.

Statistics on slaughter data has been collected and the project team has worked to compare among the organizations. A hygienic audit for turkey has been prepared and implemented in two poultry slaughterhouses. Further work will be done to develop hygienic auditing of slaughtered chicken.

The digestive tract of slaughtered chicken will be studied with the aim to reduce waste through condemnation due to fecal contamination, and to survey factors that lead fecal contamination and suggest measures. Animalia has conducted the study in 4 slaughterhouses and 3000 digestive tracts have been investigated.