Disinfection tech developed for hen eggs

Wednesday, 07 April, 2021

Disinfection tech developed for hen eggs

Russian researchers have developed a disinfection technology for the surface of packed eggs that is designed to help to kill bacteria, including Salmonella, on eggshells.

The research, conducted by Ural Federal University in conjunction with the Institute of Electrophysics at the Ural Branch of the Russian Academy of Science (UB RAS), found the technology also allows for the growing of broiler chickens (within the egg) with a strong immunity to viral diseases.

The researchers have designed the electron beam technology to help industrial poultry manufacturers save time and improve efficiency.

The technology works by disinfecting packed eggs, which are placed in plastic containers, with 50 nanoseconds (one billionth of a second) of electron beam.

Sergey Sokovnin, a professor at Ural Federal University and UB RAS, said the research found out that 5 kGy — the amount of irradiation administered to the egg — is enough for disinfection.

“Such dose allows to disinfect container and eggshells but does not affect the physical properties of the protein, yolk and shell, or their composition. The size of the eggs does not matter,” Sokovnin said.

“The disinfection of the packed eggs also protects eggs from subsequent contamination during storage.”

The research showed that while the process does not affect the quality of meat and the volume of chicks, it does make the chickens healthier.

“86% of chickens from untreated eggs show signs of chronic inflammation. In chickens from irradiated eggs, this figure reached only 4%,” Sokovnin said. “At the same time, chickens from the second group had an increased immunity to Newcastle disease.”

Sokovnin also said the process could reduce production costs for poultry manufacturers as clean eggs take about six hours less to hatch compared to normal.

“The accelerator capacity is 108 million eggs per year, which is enough for a large poultry farm,” Sokovnin said. “It permits irradiation up to 40 eggs per second. The cost of irradiation of plastic packaging for 10 eggs was 1.2 Eurocents.”

The small accelerator has been designed to integrate into existing lines for control and packaging of eggs in poultry farms. According to the scientists, the technology can also be used to disinfect the surface of eggs of other birds, as well as products with peels or another natural packaging such as seeds, bananas or oranges.

The description of the technology has been published in Food and Bioproducts Processing.

Image credit: UrFU/Ilya Safarov

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