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Imaging System to Detect Poultry Carcass Contamination


October 16, 2009
By Sharon Durham Agricultural Research Service

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October 16, 2009- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists have improved a technology that scans poultry carcasses for contamination, and have successfully tested it in a commercial poultry plant.

October 16, 2009- Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists
have improved a technology that scans poultry carcasses for
contamination, and have successfully tested it in a commercial poultry
plant.

Scientists Kurt Lawrence, Bosoon Park, Bob Windham, and
Seung-Chul Yoon—all in the Quality and Safety Assessment Research Unit
in Athens, Georgia—have made two improvements to a hyperspectral
imaging system used to scan the surface of poultry carcasses for
contaminants. They have refined the system so that it can detect even
tiny amounts of fecal contamination, which can vary significantly
depending on where in the digestive tract it originated. They have also
developed and implemented a new image-processing method to identify and
remove false-positive readings.

To facilitate the transfer of their system, a prototype
on-line multispectral imaging system was installed and tested in a
commercial poultry plant to detect fecal-contaminated carcasses. The
system was developed through a research agreement with Stork Gamco, a
manufacturer of poultry-processing equipment based in Gainesville,
Georgia. Carcasses were imaged after evisceration but before washing,
at a rate of 150 birds per minute.

“The system ran for several days with no hardware or
software problems, and it demonstrated the feasibility of accurately
detecting fecal-contaminated carcasses,” says Lawrence.

The Athens team is collaborating with agricultural
engineer Kevin Chao and biophysical scientist Moon Kim at the
Beltsville Agricultural Research Center’s Environmental Microbial and
Food Safety Laboratory, who developed an on-line imaging system to
differentiate systemically diseased poultry carcasses from wholesome
ones.

The ARS groups and their industry partner are now
merging the fecal-detection and diseased-carcass-detection systems onto
a common platform that includes a line-scan hyperspectral imaging
camera, lighting, and operating and detection software. Merging the two
systems will aid in commercialization by creating one interchangeable
imaging system that can be installed in different locations of the
processing line to solve two separate and significant problems in the
poultry processing industry. This will allow processors to more easily
integrate such a system into their operations.

“We are currently modifying our system to work on the
camera system used by the Beltsville group,” says Lawrence. “Our goal
is to have the new prototype tested by the end of 2009.”

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