Assuring that meat is as safe and wholesome as possible is a national public health priority and the most important benefit of a Rinse & Chill system. Rinse & Chill helps to enhance and protect the safety of meat in two important ways.
The first way is through blood removal. Blood is an ideal medium for bacteria to grow in and spread. Typically, 40% to 60% of the animal’s blood remains after a conventional bleed process, while application of the Rinse & Chill process helps remove more of the blood. In vitro studies have also shown that by removing metal cations, such as the form of iron found in blood, certain pathogenic bacteria do not survive. This is especially true for coliform bacteria and E. coli.
Optimizing ideal pH levels has a positive impact on meat safety. Bringing about these changes earlier is better. Bacteria can double their populations every twenty minutes. Certain flagellated microorganisms also “attach” themselves to the carcass surface in as little as one minute, making them difficult to remove later on. Rinse & Chill is believed to interfere with bacterial attachment on the carcass surface.
So, by dropping pH and temperature sooner and more rapidly, while removing additional blood from the carcass—immediately—as the first step in the slaughtering process, carcasses and by-products have been shown to be microbiologically cleaner and freer of blood. They also have a lower presence of bacteria, shelf life is improved, and the ultimate meat products are visually more appealing to the consumer.
Second, one of the most common ways that meat becomes contaminated with microbiological pathogens is when the hide is removed. The effort of removing the hide can displace and aerosolize dust and other microscopic contaminants that can land back on the carcass. Also, the stickier the carcass surface, the more likely it is to catch pathogens. With Rinse & Chill, hide removal is easier and fewer pathogens are dispersed. Another useful outcome of Rinse & Chill is that the carcass surface is less tacky or sticky; it is more slippery to the touch. It is a surface that is less likely to catch and hold airborne pathogens, and any that remain are more easily removed at final carcass wash. So, by facilitating carcass dressing procedures, it is also believed that fewer contaminants reach the carcass surface in the first place.
We can, therefore, characterize Rinse & Chill as enhancing carcass and meat hygiene, while producing beef and bison products that are microbiologically cleaner and less conducive environments for bacterial growth.