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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Water Use in the Usa's Poultry Processing Plants

Authors
item Northcutt, Julie
item Jones, Deana

Submitted to: Poultry USA
Publication Type: Trade Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: October 7, 2004
Publication Date: October 9, 2004
Citation: Northcutt, J.K., Jones, D.R. 2004. Water use in the usa's poultry processing plants. Poultry USA.5(10):36-43.

Interpretive Summary: In the late 1990's, water use in broiler and turkey processing facilities dramatically increased as processors attempted to comply with a new food safety regulation known as HACCP. At that time, water was considered to be an unlimited natural resource and a quick fix to eliminating carcass fecal contamination. Six years later, nearly all of the broiler and turkey processing facilities in the U.S. are looking for ways to conserve, reuse or recycle water. While broiler and turkey processing facilities have reduced their water use, they are still using more water than they did in the pre-HACCP days. This has put a considerable environmental and economic burden on the poultry industry. To determine how and where water is used during broiler and turkey processing, two surveys were conducted of processing facilities across the U.S. The majority of those facilities responding to the broiler survey were from the Southeast, while the majority of the facilities responding to the turkey survey were from the Northeast. These surveys showed that current water use is 1.5 (broilers) and 5.6 (turkeys) gallons higher than pre-HACCP water use. In addition, facilities are paying more for their water, water quality is variable, and waste water discharge restrictions are tighter. Surveys such as the ones detailed in this article can lead to identifying areas in processing operations where water use can be reduced and/or recycled.

Technical Abstract: In the late 1990's, water use in broiler and turkey processing facilities dramatically increased as processors attempted to comply with a new food safety regulation known as HACCP. At that time, water was considered to be an unlimited natural resource and a quick fix to eliminating carcass fecal contamination. Six years later, nearly all of the broiler and turkey processing facilities in the U.S. are looking for ways to conserve, reuse or recycle water. While broiler and turkey processing facilities have reduced their water use, they are still using more water than they did in the pre-HACCP days. This has put a considerable environmental and economic burden on the poultry industry. To determine how and where water is used during broiler and turkey processing, two surveys were conducted of processing facilities across the U.S. The majority of those facilities responding to the broiler survey were from the Southeast, while the majority of the facilities responding to the turkey survey were from the Northeast. These surveys showed that current water use is 1.5 (broilers) and 5.6 (turkeys) gallons higher than pre-HACCP water use. In addition, facilities are paying more for their water, water quality is variable, and waste water discharge restrictions are tighter. Surveys such as the ones detailed in this article can lead to identifying areas in processing operations where water use can be reduced and/or recycled.

Last Modified: 4/18/2014
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