Improving hatchery cleanliness through ATP technology

Chick_wBrownEgg_resizedAdenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a chemical compound found in all living cells, including bacteria, food residue, yeast and mold. It is the main component of ATP tests along with bioluminescence, which is a chemical reaction that produces light. ATP test systems utilize ATP bioluminescence to determine the cleanliness of surfaces. This is done through a system that typically consist of a hand-held reader, disposable samplers and software to track and trend results. Results are generated in less than 20 seconds and are intended to verify a surface is clean.

Bioluminescence occurs when ATP from a sample comes into contact with luciferase, an enzyme found in fireflies that produces the glowing feature, and luciferin, a substrate. The amount of light emitted in this reaction is proportional to the amount of ATP detected in a sample. Testing using ATP technology has been used as part of effective sanitation practices in food processing facilities since the mid 1990’s. This verification process ensures that the food preparation surface is clean and scheduled production can begin.

Recently, there is interest in adopting the use ATP technology inside the farm gate. One area includes the use at hatcheries to verify cleaning at critical locations within the hatchery operation. Inside a hatchery, key areas for monitoring hygiene levels are identified and become part of a routine test program. Some areas that have been identified include: egg holding room, hatcher room, tray wash room and vaccine room. Monitoring the hygiene levels within a hatchery can have a positive impact by reducing the chick infection rate. By coupling the use of proper disinfectants and routine cleaning practices, cleanliness levels are improved and infection rates are reduced.

Another area of interest is controlling the process flow so that employees are not entering clean areas from known dirty areas of the hatchery. By isolating traffic from dirty areas into clean areas, as well as controlling positive and negative air flow, this is a substantial step forward in improving hatchery cleanliness.

In addition to focusing on surfaces, other items used in the hatcheries include hatch baskets. The hatch baskets eventually find their way back to the tray wash room. Improper washing and disinfecting of the hatch baskets will result in serious navel infections. In this area, ATP testing can be utilized to ensure that proper sanitation efforts were effective.

Ensuring through verification that hatchery cleanliness levels are at optimal levels, can have a direct impact the top and bottom line for hatchery operations. Chick infection rates can be monitored and with targeted adjustments to the specific areas and intensities of cleaning when reviewing and analyzing sanitation data. ATP testing has been effectively used in food production facilities for several years; it is quickly becoming a useful method to evaluate and validate cleanliness in hatcheries. With a quick time-to-result, hatchery managers now have a powerful weapon to improve hatchery operation and enhance biosecurity.

To learn more about Neogen’s ATP testing systems, click here.

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