Poultry Slaughter and Evisceration

Woman cleaning poultry inside a plant

Poultry Slaughter and Evisceration

Poultry slaughter and evisceration processes begin with off-loading live poultry from transport trucks after arrival at processing plants. Following off-loading, workers typically shackle the birds in a hanging room after which they are stunned, killed, bled-out, and de-feathered. Evisceration, or removal of the birds’ internal organs, follows during which the birds are washed and inspected. After evisceration, the birds are placed in chiller baths of water and anti-microbial agents to reduce pathogen loading. A variety of chemicals are present in facilities where poultry slaughter and evisceration occur that may present an occupational hazard. Potential exposures include ammonia used in refrigeration systems, chlorine or other antimicrobial chemicals applied by spray cabinets and dip tanks, and sanitation chemicals used to clean equipment. Exposures to high levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) may result from the use of CO2 as an acidifying agent. Reports of health effects during poultry slaughter and evisceration have often included eye and respiratory irritation, thought to be related to airborne chlorine or other anti-microbial-related compounds. Similar to reports from poultry catchers at poultry houses and confinement units, respiratory symptoms have also been associated with exposures to organic dust and bacterial endotoxins generated during poultry shackling and hanging operations. Temperature extremes may be experienced at workers in these types of facilities as well as high noise levels. Musculoskeletal disorders and occupational injuries have also been reported. This section provides links to information and investigations about the evaluation and control of these and other potential exposures during poultry slaughter and evisceration.

Biological Hazards

CDC and NIOSH Publications and Resources:
Related Published Articles:

Chemical Hazards

NIOSH Publications and Resources:

Physical Hazards

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

Ergonomic Hazards

NIOSH Publications and Resources:

Traumatic Injury and Safety Hazards

NIOSH Publications and Resources:

FACE In-House Report 1996-02: Sanitation Worker Dies After Being Caught In Chiller At Poultry Processing Plant–South Carolina
This report details the recommendations from an investigation of a 37-year-old male sanitation worker who died as a result of crushing injuries he sustained after being caught in a poultry chiller at a poultry processing plant.

Reported Health Effects

NIOSH Publications and Research:
  • NIOSH Workplace Safety and Health Topic: Asthma and Allergies
  • NIOSH Alert: Preventing Asthma in Animal Handlers
    DHHS (NIOSH) Publication No. 97-116
    This Alert describes three case reports of animal handling workers affected by exposures to animals. The recommendations presented here can help reduce such exposures and prevent animal-induced asthma and allergies.
Related Published Articles:

Other Resources

Page last reviewed: April 8, 2014