Safe… and Cecure®
Safe Foods Corporation’s new anti-microbial scores big in commercial poultry processing — as the company looks to expand applications to red meat, pork, and more.
In April 2004, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the use of Cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) as an anti-microbial on raw poultry. Today, five poultry companies have purchased the new Cecure® brand of anti-microbial, which contains the highly-effective CPC — from North Little Rock, AR-based Safe Foods Corporation (SFC).
Earlier this year, the technology underwent its first on-line food processing trial. Today, Cecure® is being used in multiple poultry plants as a pre-chill application immediately following the inside/outside bird washer and before the chiller. Insiders say that more plants are already scheduled to adopt this process.
“I think we will be providing Cecure® for additional plants for each [of the five] processors. That’s as good of a recommendation as we can get,” says Mark Hill, SFC chief marketing officer. Dr. Peggy Cook, the company’s chief scientific officer, adds: “Cecure® has successfully transferred from the labs into poultry processing plants —unlike many other anti-microbial technologies that dim in promise once they reach commercial application.”
Independent research has determined that CPC is the most effective anti-microbial compound available for poultry and other foods, adds Curtis W. Coleman, SFC president and chief executive officer. Virginia Tech and Colorado State University, for example, conducted independent research on CPC and other competitive anti-microbials, and CPC came out a clear winner. The Virginia Tech study in 2002 relays that the commercial use of an effective anti-microbial CPC spray may help to reduce the level of Campylobacter on raw poultry carcasses and also reduce the volume of rinse water applied for carcass washing.
And the 2002 Colorado State University study indicates that CPC was the most effective intervention technology for reducing E. coli O157:H7 on beef cuts and trimmings.
Building on safety
Coleman explains that CPC and Safe Foods share an interesting evolution. The well-known Food Safety Consortium (consisting of the University of Arkansas, Kansas State University, and Iowa State University) was created in the 1980s to find ways to create safer foods. Some researchers from this group have since determined CPC is clearly a food-safety winner.
“A group of scientists at the University of Arkansas and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences [UAMS] reportedly tested more than one-thousand different compounds, methods, and technologies,” Coleman says. “The one compound they found most effective was CPC.”
FDA has previously reported that CPC has a history of being safely consumed for more than 50 years. Today, CPC is a common ingredient in more than 20 over-the-counter oral hygiene products such as mouth washes.
“It is remarkable that CPC is so incredibly effective against Salmonella,” Coleman says. “What is even more remarkable are studies that show you can apply CPC at more than ten times its required application rate and it still does not adversely affect taste, texture, color, or odor. It is a remarkable compound with remarkable qualities. Dr. James Marsden, Kansas State University, has remarked that CPC is one-thousand times more effective than anything else he has ever tested.”
Safe Foods was founded in 1999 for the initial purpose of acquiring the exclusive worldwide use of CPC as a food-safety technology. After acquiring the initial patent rights from the University of Arkansas, it has since acquired multiple domestic and international patents on the use of CPC for food, food packaging, and food preparation services.
“We now have patent protection in more than one-hundred countries around the world,” Coleman says. “We are following those with aggressive initiatives in many markets around the world and we are very excited.”
Meeting customer concerns
There are two concerns in the minds of poultry packers regarding incorporating a new technology or process: How much water will be used, and what will be put into the wastewater stream?
“The Cecure® system is charged and ready to run in the morning with as little as fifteen gallons of water and would probably use less than five-hundred gallons throughout the day —which includes sanitation,” Hill says.
“The only discharge into wastewater is potable water — and nothing else,” Coleman adds.
Equally important, the Cecure® system has the smallest footprint of any other anti-microbial system, Hill says. On a single line, it would be a 46-inch-wide cabinet by 5 feet in length by 46 inches in depth. But what about cost?
“It’s clear there is an efficacy-value proposition,” Hill answers. “When you weigh out all of the factors by which someone would apply an anti-microbial , such as how effective is it, how well will it work, and what do I need to get it into the plant —just given the adoption rate, we believe we’re very competitive.”
Safe Foods is in the process of further developing Cecure® application systems for beef and pork.
“We are also currently preparing the regulatory approval requirements stated by FDA for beef and pork,” Coleman says. “We think we will have the initial red meat applications ready to go within the next fifteen months.”
For those attending the International Poultry Exposition (IPE) at the end of January in Atlanta, GA, Safe Foods will be exhibiting a full-scale Cecure® system at booth 1244.
“As far as the future goes, we know that Cecure® is very effective on almost any food you can name as an anti-microbial or pathogen-control agent,” Coleman says. “As already mentioned, red meat and pork are next, but seafood, fruits, and vegetables are not far behind red meat.”