ARS System to Detect Poultry Contamination Passes First
October 9, 2009
Technology developed by
Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
scientists that automatically scans poultry carcasses for contamination has
been successfully tested in a commercial poultry plant.
ARS researchers have improved the hyperspectral imaging system so that it
can detect small amounts of fecal contamination. ARS scientists
Yoon, at the agency's
and Safety Assessment Research Unit in Athens, Ga., developed the system.
Hyperspectral imaging is a technique that combines digital imaging with
spectroscopy, creating individual wavelengths of light that pinpoint
To test the technology commercially, a prototype was installed in a
commercial poultry plant to detect contaminated carcasses. The system was
developed through a research agreement with
Stork Food Systems, a
manufacturer of poultry-processing equipment in Gainesville, Ga. Carcasses were
imaged after evisceration but before washing, at a rate of 150 birds per
minute. The system ran for several days without hardware or software problems
and demonstrated its feasibility, according to Park.
The Athens team is collaborating with agricultural engineer
Chao and biophysical scientist
Kim at the ARS
Microbial and Food Safety Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. Using the same
hyperspectral imaging technology but at different wavelengths, the ARS
scientists in Beltsville developed an on-line imaging system to differentiate
systemically diseased poultry carcasses from wholesome ones. This research
supports the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's priority of ensuring food safety.
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 processing problems.
Combining the two systems will allow processors to more easily integrate
such a system into their operations. The team plans to have a new prototype
tested by the end of 2009.
In addition, the researchers in Athens also developed and implemented a new
image-processing method to identify and remove false-positive readings.
ARS is USDA's principal intramural scientific research agency.