Hurdles to be crossed in the use of computed tomography in post-mortem inspection of chickens
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Chicken meat is the most consumed meat in the EU and worldwide. As production increases, more effective processing methods and equipment, combined with advanced inspections, are needed to ensure safety. As the speed of the processing line increases to meet demand, more mistakes are made by the evisceration machine as it does not take into account the size of the bird during evisceration. This leads to leakage of gut contents and environmental contamination. This project aims to reduce the source of contamination at the slaughterhouse and thereby reduce the overall contamination. This can be achieved in the future by adapting the machine to the individual size of the birds by introducing a computer tomography (CT) into the processing. Another aspect that requires attention is post-mortem inspection. Since it is challenging to inspect each chicken moving at a high belt speed, CT is again an experimental tool to inspect the chickens in the slaughterhouse. The current practical investigated the frequency of visible contamination due to incorrect evisceration and its relationship to the concentration of bacteria in carcass rinse samples after evisceration. In addition, the variation of bacterial concentrations in the herd and the correlation between Campylobacter and Enterobacteriaceae were investigated. Finally, abnormal and normal chicken carcasses were scanned using the CT scanning machine to identify various abnormalities. As part of this practical, an attempt was also made to measure the size of the chickens. Results showed no statistically significant differences in bacterial counts between time points after evisceration, and a weak correlation was found between Campylobacter and Enterobacteriaceae. Linear regression was used to test whether visible contamination could predict the intensity of bacterial concentrations. The model used is weak but significant in the case of Enterobacteriaceae and could not prove this in the case of Campylobacter. At the same time, chicken carcasses from the slaughterhouse were scanned. No significant differences were found between abnormal and normal chicken carcasses; however, the size of the chickens could be measured from the CT scans. This study indicates that visible contamination should be controlled to reduce bacterial concentration. Even though the CT scans could not identify the abnormalities, they could still be used to measure size and possibly be used to adjust the evisceration machine in the future. Combining imaging techniques with optical technologies such as camera vision would be more interesting to achieve optimal results in identifying abnormalities.