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Evaluation of E-beam pasteurization for inactivation of avian influenza virus in poultry meat and egg products.

J. L. Brinlee1*,  V. Brahmakshatriya2, B. Lupiani1, M. Cepeda2, S. Pillai2 and S. M. Reddy1

1Department of Veterinary Pathobiology, College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences, 2 Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University College Station, TX 77843



Electron beam (E-beam) irradiation is a proven technology used to reduce microbial loads, and therefore potential pathogens.  E-beam irradiation has been proven effective at destroying bacterial pathogens, and recent research has shown its effectiveness at reducing viral loads as well.  Although Avian Influenza (AI) is not considered a food borne pathogen, transmission of the virus to tigers fed infected chickens has raised concerns about possible infection from consuming improperly prepared poultry products infected with high path AI virus.  In the event of an outbreak of avian influenza in poultry, tools should be in place to ensure the safety of poultry and poultry products for the consumer.  This project is designed to demonstrate the validity of E-beam irradiation to inactivate AI virus and reduce virus load in egg products and poultry meat. 

Materials and Methods:

Triplicate samples of commercially produced egg whites and ground turkey meat were spiked with suspensions of North American low path AI virus isolate A/chicken/TX/2002 (H5N3) and exposed to varying doses of high energy E-beam irradiation from 0-12.5kGy in 2.5 kGy increments, measured by alanine dosimeters.  The irradiated samples and control samples were analyzed by TCID50 on MDCK cells.  The log reduction of AI virus was plotted as a function of dose and regression analysis preformed.  This data was analyzed to determine the inactivation kinetics of AI in each of the above media. 


Irradiated samples showed a dose-dependant linear reduction of AI virus, with D10 values of 1.70 kGy for egg and 2.49 kGy for meat.


E-beam pasteurization is a feasible option for inactivating the AI virus.  When used in conjunction with proper cooking procedures and current control measures for AI outbreaks, we can assure the public that commercial poultry is a safe, wholesome food.