Historically, food processing and live production have functioned as separate industries with different needs, requirements, and management. That is no longer the case. The gap between farm and food is closing—meaning that many food processing facilities (including egg graders, egg processors and poultry meat processors) are owned, managed, or have direct oversight from the same companies. In some cases, they may even share the same grounds. While this solves many management and logistical problems, it also requires careful consideration of best practices for keeping food free of disease-causing organisms, and limiting disease transfer among production animals.
The risk of transfer
Proximity to farms introduces a number of risk factors for introduction of pathogens to processing environments. Whenever animal enclosures are present, anyone handling animals or coming into contact with animal waste can introduce microorganisms into processing environments by exchanging items between farm and processor. In addition, the movement of containers, transport vehicles, and employees between the processor and the individual barns can result in the rapid spread of transmittable diseases, affecting the animal populations. Through the exchange of farm and processing equipment, a single infected barn can result in the loss of all production animals housed on the grounds regardless of separate housing. Live production facilities can introduce disease to otherwise healthy incoming animals as well. Improper disinfection and insufficient biosecurity intervention between animal groups can result in transfer of disease through waterlines, feeding equipment, and general barn surfaces. Once introduced by even a single infected animal, these microorganisms can become a major problem—especially if they spread to other areas of the farm, or neighboring farms via feed trucks, suppliers, employees or any other traffic. With recent outbreaks of diseases such as Avian Influenza becoming both a high-profile issue and a very real threat (an AI outbreak can wipe out an entire flock very quickly, with devastating consequences to the farm’s business), farms with onsite processing facilities will want to take extra care to prevent the spread of microorganisms.
To prevent the spread of pathogens from farm-to-farm or from a farm-to-processing environment, the USDA recommends a number of common-sense biosecurity practices that include isolating flocks from each other and from unnecessary human contact, watching for early warning signs of disease and keeping cages, vehicles, tools and equipment clean. Recommended biosecurity programs include entryway control for human foot traffic (through use of an approved EPA registered sanitizer), physical barriers on the grounds to limit and direct the movement of employees and vehicles, truck washes for incoming vehicles, and the development of detailed cleaning and disinfection protocols for pre-population barn preparation. The benefits of adopting these practices are enormous. Less risk to animals and food products not only preserves the assets that keep farms and processing facilities running, it maintains positive public perception among consumers who care about animal health and welfare as well as having a safe and healthy food supply.
What products are available and how are they used?
Live production facilities will want to take particular care to treat high-risk locations and systems: the insides of barns and waterlines and the entryways to barns and processing facilities.
Sterilex® Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner and Activator Solution is based on Sterilex proprietary PerQuat® technology, and is effective in killing Avian Influenza (AI), multiple strains of Salmonella as well as numerous additional poultry and swine pathogens. In waterlines, it can be used for line disinfection and the removal of organic contaminants. The two-part solution is mixed, diluted in water, pumped into the nipple drinker lines to soak, and then flushed with potable water between flocks. This process creates a cleaner, safer water source and limits the risk of AI spreading between flocks. In addition, clean waterlines support better water quality, better water intake, and as a result, better animal growth, and overall animal health.
Sterilex® Ultra Disinfectant Cleaner and Activator Solution can also be used inside barns to disinfect between flocks. Following the removal of gross soils from the barn, the two-part solution is mixed, diluted in water, and either foamed or sprayed on surfaces.
In entryways, Sterilex® Ultra Powder is an EPA-registered solid floor, foot pan and boot sanitizer that is highly effective as an alternative to foot baths and can prevent the spread of food pathogens via foot traffic. The powder is used in entryway foot pans, and can also be applied directly to floors in barns and hatcheries.
What additional information is available?
For more information on preventing the spread of avian influenza, visit the USDA’s Avian Influenza page. Of particular interest to poultry farms and processors are the Biosecurity for Birds and 6 Simple Steps for Good Biosecurity pages, which outline some of the USDA’s recommended practices for keeping poultry populations safe from pathogens like Avian Influenza, Salmonella, and exotic Newcastle disease (END).
For more information on using Sterilex products to address the challenges of integrated farms, contact us for more details.