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Evaluation of a method of ultraviolet light sanitation of broiler hatching eggs

Coufal, C.D., Chavez, C., Knape, K.D., Carey, J.B.
Poultry science 2003 v.82 no.5 pp. 754-759
eggs, incubation, egg hatchability, sanitizing, ultraviolet radiation, lamps, plate count, microbial contamination, Salmonella typhimurium, Escherichia coli, egg shell, animal cuticle, egg shell quality, embryonic mortality, animal production
Sanitation of hatching eggs is an important area of research due to the need for an effective, economical, and safe method of egg sanitation. Improved hatching egg sanitation is an important part of an overall pathogen reduction program within integrated poultry operations. This must be accomplished without disturbing the cuticle of the egg, which can decrease hatchability. The ability of ultraviolet (UV) light to kill bacteria on eggshell surfaces has been well documented. To accomplish the task of treating the eggs in a method that could be commercially implemented, a cabinet was constructed in which ultraviolet lamps were placed. A conveyor system was used to carry a plastic hatching egg flat containing 42 eggs through the cabinet for a period of 3 or 4 min. Ultraviolet intensities within the cabinet reached a maximum of 14 mW/cm.2 Experiments were conducted to test the impact of UV light (254 nm) exposure of hatching eggs on aerobic plate counts (APC), inoculated Salmonella typhimurium and inoculated Escherchia coli. In the first three experiments, seven eggs were sampled from a flat passed through the UV chamber. Ultraviolet-treated eggs compared to untreated eggs had APC reductions of 1.3 log, S. typhimurium had a 4 log reduction, and E. coli had a 4 to 5 log reduction. Laboratory trials were also conducted to test the effects of UV irradiation on the cuticle of the egg and hatchability. No significant differences for eggshell conductance or hatchability were found between UV-treated and control eggs. From these trials, it can be concluded that UV irradiation of hatching eggs in a prototype irradiation cabinet can effectively reduce aerobic and pathogenic bacteria on eggshell surfaces without affecting eggshell conductance or hatchability.