Date of this Version
Accurate information about water and energy use and wastewater production in beef packing plants is scarce. The objective of this study was to collect baseline water and energy use data within a beef packing plant with a special focus on antimicrobial interventions and to collect preliminary wastewater production data in addition. Permanent and portable water flow meters were installed on the plant’s plumbing system to collect water flow data from March 2014 to March 2015. A local utility company was hired to meter electricity at antimicrobial interventions using portable data loggers. Metered water flows and temperatures were combined with fundamental thermodynamics principles to estimate natural gas use. Wastewater samples were collected in two sampling events and average BOD, COD, TSS, pH and conductivity are reported. The Total water used for cattle processing was 355 gal./ 1000 lb. BW and the Total metered and estimated energy was 283 MJ/ 1000 lb. BW. The antimicrobial interventions investigated in this study are the Pre-evisceration wash, organic acid spraying, carcass wash and thermal pasteurization. For those antimicrobial interventions, the water (16%) and energy (12%) use, and wastewater production (29% of BOD, 12% of COD and 8% of TSS) was a small portion of the overall use and production. Most of the wastewater load generation was from manual processes, primarily viscera processing and overnight cleaning, which also have the highest water use and variability. The wastewater analyses suggest that specific streams, like the organic acid spraying, may have an impact on downstream biological treatment processes. Although this study was done at one plant, it is believe that this study is representative of the industry since the main processes and equipment brands are common across the industry. Available historic data suggest that there may have been significant improvements in the water and energy use within beef packing plants.
Advisors: Bruce I. Dvorak and Jeyamkondan Subbiah