In order to reduce core temperatures and control microbial activity on processed poultry, carcasses are currently immersed in specialized chillers. These large tanks are typically filled with chilled water that cools the carcasses to temperatures needed to inhibit pathogen growth, which historically have been near 4°C. The process, however, uses a considerable amount of water and energy along with the additional cost of chemical disinfectants. Researchers at the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) are exploring the use of ice slurry as an alternative chilling medium.
Ice slurry contains tiny ice crystals that are formed by mixing water with a freezing point depressant, such as salt. The slurry is produced by a specialized mechanical process of forming or cutting/scraping. The result is a two-phase mixture of micro-sized ice and water with excellent chilling ability. The GTRI team, having learned of the fishing industry’s use of ice slurry as a coolant preservative, thought the same could hold true for poultry-processing operations.