In order to improve the animal welfare, the Council Directive 1999/74/EC (defining minimum standards for the welfare of laying hens) will ban conventional cage systems from 2012, in favor of enriched cages or floor systems. As a consequence an increased risk of bacterial contamination of eggshells is expected. This has lead toward the development of efficient techniques to reduce eggshell contamination by bacterial pathogens, and thus to prevent any potential or additional food safety risk for Human health. The objectives of this research were to develop and validate a numerical model useful to study the physics of treatment with hot air, in natural convection conditions, and then to assess the impact of the treatment on egg quality and Salmonella Enteritidis inactivation on the shell. As regards the decontamination effectiveness, a reduction in microbial load up to 2.6 log10 after 200 minutes was observed. A linear correlation between the time of treatment and the microbial decimal reduction (R2 0.92) was also observed. This suggests the opportunity of further study with longer treatment. Moreover the results about weak action on quality parameters suggest the practical feasibility of a transportation system for eggs, from production to sorting plant, in heated container.
eggshell, hot air, CFD, thermal treatment, decontamination.