Temperature Control

Of all the methods to delay microbial spoilage, temperature control remains the most dependable and widely used. According to the USDA, broiler carcasses must be chilled to at least 4.4°C after 4 hours; turkeys, after 8 hours (32). In most commercial facilities this is accomplished through immersion chilling. Freezing poultry destroys 96 to 99% of the total surface microflora (33). Numbers continue to decrease during prolonged frozen storage. Freezing does not completely free poultry from salmonellae or other potential pathogens.

The bacteria responsible for the spoilage of poultry are not notably xerotolerant. Freezing will subject these organisms to water stress at temperatures close to their minima for growth. The synergistic effects of these two factors, temperature and water activity, probably insure that spoilage bacteria do not usually grow on frozen poultry, although some strains could possibly grow at temperatures below 2°C. The preservation of food by freezing is based on the retardation of microbial growth to the point at which decomposition due to microbial action does not occur (34). Pathogenic microorganisms do not grow below 2°C.

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