Poultry Processing and Packaging

Woman cleaning poultry inside a plant

Poultry Processing and Packaging

After a specified period of time in a facility’s chiller baths, the poultry are recovered for processing. This often involves the use of sharp-bladed instruments to debone, trim and cut the birds into various parts. In many cases, these parts can be processed with seasonings, spices, marinades, or other ingredients for consumers. Secondary processing may also occur in which parts are converted to ready-to-eat products such as hotdogs, sausages, or nuggets. Packaging of birds, either in whole or in parts, occurs as a last step prior to shipping to food distribution networks. During these processing and packaging steps, traumatic injuries and musculoskeletal disorders have been the primary health effects reported. Such traumatic injuries may result from the extensive use of knives and other sharp-bladed instruments; musculoskeletal disorders may result from the cumulative effects of rapid and repetitive movements by the workers. Additionally, ammonia and chlorine are also potentially used in these facilities and may present occupational hazards; the extensive use of dry ice may also present the possibility for worker exposure to high levels of carbon dioxide. Indoor temperatures are often kept quite low in these areas resulting in health issues related to cold stress. This section provides links to information and investigations about the evaluation and control of these and other potential exposures during poultry processing and packaging.

Chemical Hazards

NIOSH Publications and Resources:

Physical Hazards

CDC and NIOSH Publications and Resources:
  • NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic: Cold Stress
  • NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic: Heat Stress
  • NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic: Noise

Ergonomic Hazards

NIOSH Publications and Resources:
Related Published Articles:

Other Resources

Page last reviewed: April 8, 2014