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Can Steam Cleaning Carcases Reduce Contamination?

21 April 2014

Steam vacuum suction is a useful method to improve carcase hygiene on beef carcases, by removing hair, faecal material and soiled carcase spots.

tubular 5 steam cleaner
Figure 1. Tubular-5

The microbiological quality of treated areas is also superior to non-treated.

In the USA and Scandinavia, steam vacuum suction has become a commonly accepted and useful method to improve carcass hygiene on beef, lamb and pork.

Now, a new tool for this process has been developed by Danish Meat Research Institute.

And research has been carried out to assess the efficacy of the new handheld steam vacuum handle Tubular-5 for improved slaughter hygiene in a commercial beef operation.

tubular 5 pic 2
Figure 2. Suction through core of nozzle, steam discharge from jets in outer nozzle wall

The Tubular-5 is constructed with flexible silicone nozzles that follow the carcase surface closely (WO2009/138083A1).

A cluster of several nozzles makes cleaning of large areas possible.

The silicon steam nozzles are easy to clean as they do not have material films sticking to the nozzles as is sometimes the case for metal type heads.
In a test including 30 beef carcases at the cutting line in a commercial slaughterhouse, the Tubular-5 handle was used on the left and right leg alternately.


The aerobic cell count was reduced by approx. 1.2 log cfu compared with the non-steam vacuum sucked side.

This reduction is similar to previous investigations with steam vacuum suction.

tubular 5 pic 3
Figure 3. Cleaning of the leg

Samples were also analysed for E.coli.

E.coli occurred in approximately every third carcase at the control side, but none were found on the treated sides.

A reversible discolouration of the carcase surface can occur but is generally not visible after the chilling process.

Use of steam is approximately 10-20kg steam/water/hour

With electrical steam generator, an energy consumption of approximately 7-10kWh is expected

A vacuum pump system with separator providing 5.15 kPa requires approx. 4-6 kWh.

Steam vacuum suction is thus an efficient tool for application at the end of the slaughterline as a CCP or at other critical positions such as hide removal or evisceration.

tubular 5 pic 4 chart
Figure 4. Means and deviation of aerobic cell count on beef carcase legs cleaned or not cleaned with steam vacuum suction Tubular-5 (log cfu/cm2)


Patent application WO2009/138083A1.
Larsen, H.D., Teilmann, J.P, Wahlgren, M. & Christensen, H. 2009. Hygienic effect on steam vacuuming lamb and cattle carcasses in a Norwegian slaughterhouse. Fleischwirtschaft International 1/2009, 77-82.
Vitenskabskomiteen for mattryghett

March 2014

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