9 COOL factors to consider when chilling poultry

Marel shows to be the industry's authority when it comes to air chilling

Air Chilling Fans

Chilling by air is about much more than blowing cold air at a chicken carcass. Done badly, it will compromise shelf life, yield and presentation. We set out below nine compelling factors to consider when choosing your poultry chilling partner!

Factor 1. Sustainability

In our warming world, we need to keep a keen eye on energy and water usage. Each Marel air chilling installation is built to order, striking the best possible balance between footprint and energy use with no compromises on either yield or product presentation. The combination of hourly capacity, product weight, desired core temperature and space available will dictate the size of the footprint.

Ever lower energy inputs and ever better product quality are key Marel research and development priorities. The ideal is to create the best possible and least energy-intensive chilling environment around each individual carcass.

Factor 2. Optimum shelf life

In virtually all markets, there is a legal requirement to chill products immediately after evisceration to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria, although to what temperature can vary.

Both processors and their customers want optimum shelf life. This is driving a trend towards lower temperatures. In many markets, core temperatures should now be as close as possible to the freezing point. This presents a challenge, as the lower the temperature, the greater the risk of thin parts such as wings and neck flaps freezing.

Marel specialists have unrivaled experience in designing air-chilling installations. They will always guarantee the agreed core temperature with no freezing of any part.

Moistener Spray Cabinet For Air Chilling Tunnel Nozzle
Moisturizing cabinet outside the chilling tunnel with a detailed view of the spray nozzles.

Factor 3. Protect yield and offer succulent products

If not chilled correctly, air-chilled product can dry out. To prevent this, Marel developed its DownFlow+ technology, an industry first. This technology involves the application of a thin film of moisture to internal, external or both surfaces of products in misting cabinets, whose number and location will vary from project to project.

By switching individual misting cabinets on or off, DownFlow+ allows processors to manage precisely the degree of succulence of the final product.

Factor 4. Manage color and presentation

Each market has its idea of what color makes for an attractive pack presentation. With DownFlow+ processors can manage color and finish too. Customer needs will determine the number of misting cabinets and their position in the system.

Where processors offer more than one finish, they can change quickly from one to the other by switching cabinets on or off.

Nine excellent reasons to play it cool with Marel!


Factor 5. Fully in-line

An overhead conveyor system transports carcasses through a Marel air-chilling installation. Transfer in and out of the installation can be automatic, keeping the process fully in-line with no manual rehang operations. Automatic transfer contributes to better food safety, as the less potentially contaminating human hands touch product, the better.

An in-line system also allows processors to benefit from Innova tracking and tracing. This can track each product through all process steps from live bird intake to the dispatch store. An increasing number of retailers and foodservice outlets now insist that their suppliers offer full traceability.

Factor 6. Solutions, which offer in-line chilling and maturation

In many markets, breast fillet accounts for a very significant percentage of chicken consumption figures. Consumers, however, like their fillet tender and not tough and stringy. To ensure tenderness, deboning can only start after maturation. In the past, maturation took place off-line in chilled storage. The process was labor-intensive, took a long time and needed a lot of space.

The Marel Maturation Chilling System, another industry first, is today’s perfect solution. It is a two-stage, fully in-line process. A longer maturation chill at temperatures ideal for proteolytic breakdown follows a short shock chill at very low air temperatures and high air velocity. The process achieves in three or so hours levels of tenderness, for which traditional off-line systems needed much longer. Being fully in-line, it also does away with the need for manual crating or rehanging operations.

Air Chilling USA

Factor 7. Full real-time production data

Carcasses typically spend some three hours in the Maturation Chilling System. Innova software allows plant management to make good use of this time. This module receives weight and quality grade information from SmartWeigher and IRIS systems installed at the end of the evisceration line and follows each product through the chiller.

As a result, management knows the weight and quality profile of all product in the maturation chiller and can allocate product to customer orders that much earlier. Should weights not be as expected, management can take prompt remedial action.

Factor 8. Reliability and usability

A Maturation Chilling System for 15,000 bph will comprise almost 7 kilometers of overhead track containing over 46,000 shackles. Reliably driving this length of line at this high speed and identifying quickly damaged or broken shackles are key day-to-day issues.

Marel has many years of experience driving long overhead conveyor lines, for which it developed its ATC system. ATC continuously monitors chain tension and fine-tunes each drive unit to achieve uniform tension throughout the Maturation Chill System. Should a drive unit fail, its neighbor automatically takes over its load. Replacement of the failed drive unit can take place when convenient.

A trolley detector identifies any broken or damaged shackle, which plant engineers can then quickly replace.

Immersion In Line Air Chilling (1)

Factor 9. Something for processors chilling in water

Immersion chilling in water is still popular in many countries, the USA being the best example.
Some processors in these markets want to produce a drier product chilled to a lower temperature. Typically, this involves an air chill line installed after a counter-flow immersion chiller. Rehanging to the air chill line is manual.

For these processors, Marel has developed its in-line combined water/air chilling system, where a multi-stage water bath replaces the conventional counter-flow chiller. Carcasses pass through the bath on an overhead conveyor before proceeding to the second DownFlow air chill stage. To save space, the air chiller is often installed above the bath. The air chill stage can also incorporate DownFlow+ technology. This allows plant management to influence the wetness and color of the final product.

Rehang in and out of the combined chilling system can be automatic, saving labor and allowing fully in-line product-by-product tracking and tracing.

Nine excellent reasons therefore to play it cool with Marel.

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