The efficacy of pulsed ultraviolet light processing for table and hatching eggs

J. R. Cassar, L. M. Bright, P. H. Patterson, E. W. Mills, A. Demirci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In the United States, every year an average of 287.1 eggs are consumed per person, and over 14.1 billion eggs are set in hatchery incubators to produce chicks destined for the egg and meat bird industries. By reducing the microbial load on eggs, food-borne–associated outbreaks can be reduced while good chick health is maintained. Pulsed ultraviolet (PUV) light system delivers an energy-intense broad spectrum (100–1,100 nm) pulse derived from a xenon flashlamp. In recent years, PUV light has been shown to reduce microbial pathogens on the surface of shell eggs by using a static PUV light system. In this study, shell eggs were surface inoculated with Escherichia coli or Enterococcus faecium and treated with PUV light using a modified egg candling conveyor that provided complete rotation of eggs under a flashlamp. Pulsed UV light treatment inactivated both microbial strains, with greater energy resulting in a greater germicidal response (P < 0.05). Treatments of 1.0, 2.4, 3.1, and 4.9 J/cm2 resulted in microbial reductions (Log10 CFU/cm2) of 3.83, 4.26, 4.28, and 4.62 for E. coli and 2.04, 3.12, 3.11, and 3.82 for E. faecium, respectively. This study also evaluated the effects of PUV light treatment of hatching eggs (commercial Leghorn hybrids) on both embryo and chick growth parameters. Using the same system, 4 replicates of 125 fertile eggs per rep were treated with 0 (control), 4.9, 24.4, or 48.8 J/cm2 of PUV light. After processing, eggs were placed in a commercial incubator under normal incubation conditions. There was no significant effect of the PUV light treatment on percent fertility, hatchability, or hatch (P > 0.05). Furthermore, there were no significant effects on posthatch observations, including livability and average bird weight at hatch or at 42 d of age (P > 0.05). In conclusion, this study supports the application of PUV light as an effective antimicrobial intervention for both table and hatching eggs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100923
JournalPoultry science
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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