Potential causes of contamination of poultry during the slaughtering and processing procedures include contact of the carcass with body parts that contain a high microbial load (e.g. feathers, feet, intestinal contents), use of contaminated equipment, and physical manipulation of the meat (e.g. deboning, cutting, mincing).

Prevention of microbial contamination involves careful regulation and monitoring of the farms, slaughtering and processing plants, proper handling and storage, validated routine cleaning procedures and adequate cooking of raw and processed poultry products.

Poultry provides an excellent medium for the growth of microorganisms. The principal spoilage bacteria found on poultry include Pseudomonas, Staphylococcus, Micrococcus, Acinetobacter, and Moraxella. In addition, poultry often supports the growth of certain pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria, such as Salmonella spp. and Campylobacter spp.

The organism of great concern and focus currently is Campylobacter spp. It accounts for the most incidents of food borne infection in the UK. The poultry industry is constantly investigating many interventions to reduce the level of bacteria and contamination of raw chicken, with the microorganisms of greatest concern Campylobacter and Salmonella. These interventions range across the whole farming and production process and are being monitored and benchmarked by the poultry industry working in conjunction with the FSA and Retailers

Cleaning in a poultry processing plant involves the removal of large amounts of gross debris from large and hazardous equipment. Typically, medium or high pressure washdown systems are used for rinsing and application of foam detergents and terminal disinfectants.

Dependant on the process, soils vary and include high levels of protein in the early stages of the slaughtering process and fats after the scalding process. Evisceration equipment requires a significant amount of cleaning and inspection due to the nature of debris present at these points in the process.