For the first time in 100 years chicken has replaced beef as America's number one meat product for consumers; a challenge for producers to keep pace with demand and an even larger challenge to provide safe products that are free of contaminates.

"It's estimated that Americans buy some 83 pounds of chicken per capita annually," said Bill Svec, vice president of Water and Food Products for RGF Environmental Group. "It's also a fact that nearly 50 million Americans become ill from eating foods contaminated with Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus as well mold, yeast and viruses."

In a recent study conducted by Consumer Reports, 300 raw chicken breasts purchased throughout the country were tested and nearly all carried potentially harmful bacteria. Government statistics show that more U.S. deaths are attributed to poultry than any other commodity.

Through proper handing and cooking consumers can eliminate many contaminates found in raw chicken, but Svec said the key for processors is to employ a combination of plant air-purification systems with effective end of the process line treatment systems to safely treat products prior to sale and consumption.

At the recent Process Expo 2013 in Chicago, RGF Environmental introduced a significantly upgraded PHI Treatment System for meat processors with the introduction of a PHI Treatment Tunnel-PLUS system, which uniquely provides direct 360-degree surface application on all exposed meat surfaces resulting in 99.9 percent surface microbial reduction.


"This modular tunnel is the most effective, state-of-the-art system that I have reviewed and for the first time processors will be able to fully treat beef, pork and poultry, which has tough angular surfaces and ridges," said Dr. James Marsden, a national leading scientist in the field of food safety for the past 30 years. "The PHI process does not affect the taste or appearance of the product, and the tunnel is unique in its ability to totally treat the product surface."

For a look inside the PHI treatment process, please visit RGF Environmental's YouTube channel.

Dr. Marsden, a professor of food safety and security at Kansas State University and an adviser for the North American Meat Processors Association, said the all-natural photohydroionization (PHI) is an advanced oxidation technology that acts as an additional strategic intervention for trimmings and whole muscle. The PHI technology allows for the anti-microbial treatment of meat products without leaving chemical residues.

RGF, the U.S. patent holder for PHI-Cell Technology, has over the last 20 years installed various surface sanitation tunnels used for meat, dairy and fruit and vegetable processors. Considered a breakthrough in food processing technology, the stainless steel PHI tunnels are retrofitted depending on type of products being treated.  The food tunnel can provide final non-chemical, anti-microbial treatment, and protect products from human error or other cross contamination events, which may have occurred earlier during the process.

The PHI technology has been validated for control of Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes, Escherichia coli O157:H7 and Staphylococcus aureus, as well as mold yeast and viruses.