Table 6 Reported Chemical Compositions of Meat Processing Wastewater

_Type of meat_

Item__Hog__Cattle__Mixed Reference pH 7.1-7.4 12

1200-3000 30

583 22

3000-12,873 24

3015 26

2100-3190 27

5100 28

12,160-18,768 29

900-2500 12

600-2720 9

1030-1045 448-996 635-2240 15

700-1800 30

404 22

950-3490 23

900-4620 24

944-2992 25

1950 26

975-3330 27

3100 28

8833-11,244 29

Suspended solids (SS) (mg/L) 3677 3574 1

900-3200 12

300-4200 15

633-717 467-820 457-929 30

200-1000 22

1375 23

381-3869 24

865-6090 26

283 310 28

10,588-18,768 29

Nitrogen (mg/L) 253 378 1

22-510 9

122 154 113-324 15 Type of meat

Item_Hog Cattle Mixed Reference

















Phosphorus (mg/L) 154









that slaughterhouse design ensures the complete segregation of process washwater and strict hygiene procedures to prevent cross-contamination. The mineral chemistry of the wastewater is influenced by the chemical composition of the slaughterhouse's treated water supply, waste additions such as blood and manure, which can contribute to the heavy metal load in the form of copper, iron, manganese, arsenic, and zinc, and process plant and pipework, which can contribute to the load of copper, chromium, molybdenum, nickel, titanium, and vanadium.


As indicated previously, the overall waste load arising from a slaughterhouse is determined principally by the type and number of animals slaughtered. The partitioning of this load between the solid and aqueous phases will depend very much upon the operational practises adopted, however, and there are measures that can be taken to minimize wastewater generation and the aqueous pollution load.

Minimization can start in the holding pens by reducing the time that the animals remain in these areas through scheduling of delivery times. The incorporation of slatted concrete floors laid to falls of 1 in 60 with drainage to a slurry tank below the floor in the design of the holding pens can also reduce the amount of washdown water required. Alternatively, it is good practise to remove manure and lairage from the holding pens or stockyard in solid form before washing down. In the slaughterhouse itself, cleaning and carcass washing typically account for over 80% of total water use and effluent volumes in the first processing stages. One of the major contributors to organic load is blood, which has a COD of about 400,000 mg/L, and washing down of dispersed blood can be a major cause of high effluent strength. Minimization can be achieved by having efficient blood collection troughs allowing collection from the carcass over several minutes. Likewise the trough should be designed to allow separate drainage to a collection tank of the blood and the first flush of washwater. Only residual blood should enter a second drain for collection of the main portion of the washwater. An efficient blood recovery

Table 7 Pollutant Generation per Unit of Production for Meat Processing Wastewater

Type of meat

Table 7 Pollutant Generation per Unit of Production for Meat Processing Wastewater

Type of meat







16.7 lb/103 lb or

38.4 lb/103 lb or


kg/tonne LWK

kg/tonne LWK

6.5-9.0 lb/103 lb or

1.9-27.6 lb/103 lb or




1.1-1.2 lb/hog-unit


2.4-2.6 Kg/hog-unit

8.6- 18.0 lb/103 lb or



Suspended solids

13.3 lb/103 lb or

11.11b/103 lb or




1.2-53.8 lb/103 lb or



5.5-15.1 lb/103 lb or



Total volatile

3.1-56.4 lb/103 lb or


solids (VS)



0.2-10.2 lb/103 lb or




3.7 lb/103 lb or

6.2 lb/103 lb or





Total Kjeldahl

1.3 lb/103 lb or

1.2 lb/103 lb or





Total phosphorus

0.8 lb/103 lb or

0.2 lb/103 lb or




Fecal coliform

6.2x1010 CFU/103 lb

2.9x1010 CFU/103 lb



13.6x1010 CFU/tonne

6.4x1010 CFU/tonne

LWK, live weight kill; CFU, colony forming unit.

LWK, live weight kill; CFU, colony forming unit.


Table 8 Typical Wastewater Properties for a Mixed Kill Slaughterhouse

Table 8 Typical Wastewater Properties for a Mixed Kill Slaughterhouse

Killing floor



825 6.6

Blood and tank water



32,000 9.0

Scald tank



4600 9.0

Meat cutting



520 7.4

Gut washer



13,200 6.0




2200 6.7

Original data from US Public Health Service and subsequently reported in SS, suspended solids; BOD, biochemical oxygen demand.

Refs. 15 and 33.

system could reduce the aqueous pollution load by as much as 40% compared to a plant of similar size that allows the blood to flow to waste [18].

The second area where high organic loads into the wastewater system can arise is in the gut room. Most cattle and sheep abattoirs clean the paunch (rumen), manyplies (omasum), and reed (abomasum) for tripe production. A common method of preparation is to flush out the gut manure from the punctured organs over a mechanical screen, and allow water to transport the gut manure to the effluent treatment system.

Typically the gut manure has a COD of over 100,000 mg/L, of which 80% dissolves in the washwater. Significant reductions in wastewater strength can be made by adopting a "dry" system for removing and transporting these gut manures. The paunch manure in its undiluted state has enough water present to allow pneumatic transport to a "dry" storage area where a compactor can be used to reduce the volume further if required. The tripe material requires washing before further processing, but with a much reduced volume of water and resulting pollution load.

The small and large intestines are usually squeezed and washed for use in casings. To reduce water, washing can be carried out in two stages: a primary wash in a water bath with continuous water filtration and recirculation, followed by a final rinse in clean potable water. Other measures that can be taken in the gut room to minimize water use and organic loadings to the aqueous stream include ensuring that mechanical equipment, such as the hasher machine, are in good order and maintained regularly.

Within the slaughtering area and cutting rooms, measures should be adopted to minimize meat scraps and fatty tissue entering the floor drains. Once in the drains these break down due to turbulence, pumping, or other mechanical actions (e.g., on screens), leading to an increase in effluent COD. These measures include using fine mesh covers to drains, encouraging operators to use collection receptacles for trimmings, and using well-designed equipment with catch trays. Importantly, a "dry" cleaning of the area to remove solid material, for example using cyclonic vacuum cleaners, should take place before any washdown.

Other methods can also be employed to minimize water usage. These will not in themselves reduce the organic load entering the wastewater treatment system, but will reduce the volume requiring treatment, and possibly influence the choice of treatment system to be employed. For example, high-strength, low-volume wastewaters may be more suited to anaerobic rather than aerobic biological treatment methods. Water use minimization methods include:

• the use of directional spray nozzles in carcass washing, which can reduce water consumption by as much as 20%;

• use of steam condensation systems in place of scald tanks for hair and nail removal;

• fitting washdown hoses with trigger grips;

• appropriate choice of cleaning agents;

• reuse of clear water (e.g., chiller water) for the primary washdown of holding pens.


The degree of wastewater treatment required will depend on the proposed type of discharge. Wastewaters received into the sewer system are likely to need less treatment than those having direct discharge into a watercourse. In the European Union, direct discharges have to comply with the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive [32] and other water quality directives. In the United States the EPA is proposing effluent limitations guidelines and standards (ELGs) for the Meat and Poultry Products industries with direct discharge [1]. These proposed ELGs will apply to existing and new meat and poultry products (MPP) facilities and are based on the well-tested concepts of "best practicable control technology currently available" (BPT), the "best conventional pollutant control technology" (BCT), the "best available technology economically achievable" (BAT), and the "best available demonstrated control technology for new source performance standards" (NSPS). In summary, the technologies proposed to meet these requirements use, in the main, a system based on a treatment series comprising flow equalization, dissolved air flotation, and secondary biological treatment for all slaughterhouses; and require nitrification for small installations and additional denitrification for complex slaughterhouses. These regulations will apply to around 6% of an estimated 6770 MPP facilities.

There is some potential, however, for segregation of wastewaters allowing specific individual pretreatments to be undertaken or, in some cases, bypass of less contaminated streams. Depending on local conditions and regulations, water from boiler houses and refrigerating systems may be segregated and discharged directly or used for outside cleaning operations.

15.4.1 Primary and Secondary Treatment Primary Treatment

Grease removal is a common first stage in slaughterhouse wastewater treatment, with grease traps in some situations being an integral part of the drainage system from the processing areas. Where the option is taken to have a single point of removal, this can be accomplished in one of two ways: by using a baffled tank, or by dissolved air flotation (DAF). A typical grease trap has a minimum detention period of about 30 minutes, but the period need not to be greater than 1 hour [33]. Within the tank, coagulation of fats is brought about by cooling, followed by separation of solid material in baffled chambers through natural flotation of the less dense material, which is then removed by skimming.

In the DAF process, part of the treated water is recycled from a point downstream of the DAF. The recycled flow is retained in a pressure vessel for a few minutes for mixing and air saturation to take place. The recycle stream is then added to the DAF unit where it mixes with the incoming untreated water. As the pressure drops, the air comes out of solution, forming fine bubbles. The fine bubbles attach to globules of fat and oil, causing them to rise to the surface where they collect as a surface layer.

The flotation process is dependent upon the release of sufficient air from the pressurized fluid when the pressure is reduced to atmospheric. The nature of the release is also important, in that the bubbles must be of reasonably constant dimensions (not greater than 130 microns), and in sufficient numbers to provide blanket coverage of the retaining vessel. In practise, the bubble size and uniform coverage give the appearance of white water. The efficiency of the process depends upon bubble size, the concentration of fats and grease to be separated, their specific gravity, the quantity of the pressurized gas, and the geometry of the reaction vessel.

Figure 3 shows a schematic diagram of a typical DAF unit. The DAF unit can also be used to remove solids after screening, and in this case it usually incorporates chemical dosing to bring about coagulation and flocculation of the solids. When used for this purpose, the DAF unit will remove the need for a separate sedimentation tank.

Dissolved air flotation has become a well-established unit operation in the treatment of abattoir wastes, primarily as it is effective at removing fats from the aqueous stream within a short retention time (20-30 minutes), thus preventing the development of acidity [18]. Since the 1970s, DAF has been widely used for treating abattoir and meat-processing wastes. Some early

Figure 3 Schematic diagram of typical DAF unit.

texts mention the possibility of fat and protein recovery using DAF separation [9,34]. Johns [14] reported, however, that such systems had considerable operating problems, including long retention times and low surface overflow rates, which led to solids settling, large volumes of putrefactive and bulky sludge with difficult dewatering properties, and sensitivity to flow variations.

DAF units are still extensively used within the industry, but primarily now as a treatment option rather than for product recovery. The effectiveness of these units depends on a number of factors and on their position within the series of operations. The efficiency of the process for fat removal can be reduced if the temperature of the water is too hot (>100°F or 38°C); the increase in fat recovery from reducing the wastewater temperature from 104 to 86°F (40 to 30°C) is estimated to be up to 50% [35]. Temperature reduction can be achieved by wastewater segregation or by holding the wastewater stream in a buffer or flow equalization tank. Operated efficiently in this manner the DAF unit can remove 15-30% COD/BOD, 30-60% SS, and 60-90% of the oil and grease without chemical addition. Annual operating costs for DAF treatment remain high, however, indicating that the situation has not altered significantly since Camin [36] concluded from a survey of over 200 meat packing plants in the United States that air flotation was the least efficient treatment in terms of dollars per weight of BOD removed.

Chemical treatment can improve the pollution removal efficiency of a DAF unit, and typically ferric chloride is used to precipitate proteins and polymers used to aid coagulation. The adjustment of pH using sulfuric acid is also reported to be used in some slaughterhouses to aid the precipitation of protein [37]. Travers and Lovett [38] reported enhanced removal of fats when a DAF unit was operated at pH 4.0-4.5 without any further chemical additions. Such a process would require substantial acid addition, however.

A case study in a Swiss slaughterhouse describes the use of a DAF plant to treat wastewater that is previously screened at 0.5 mm (approx 1/50 inch) and pumped to a stirred equalization tank with five times the volumetric capacity of the hourly DAF unit flow rate [39,40]. The wastewater, including press water returns, is chemically conditioned with iron(III) for blood coagulation, and neutralized to pH 6.5 with soda lime to produce an iron hydroxide floc, which is then stabilized by polymer addition. This approach is claimed to give an average of 80% COD removal, between 40 and 60% reduction in total nitrogen, a flotation sludge with 7% dry solids with a volume of 2.5% of the wastewater flow. The flotation sludge can then be dewatered further with other waste fractions such as slurry from vehicle washing and bristles from pig slaughter to give a fraction with around 33% dry solids.

It must be borne in mind that although chemical treatment can be used successfully to reduce pollution load, especially of soluble proteinaceous material, it results in much larger quantities of readily putrescible sludge. It will, however, significantly reduce the nutrient load onto subsequent biological processes. In many existing plants a conventional train of unit operations is used, in which solids are removed from the wastewater using a combination of screens and settlement. Screening is usually carried out on a fine-mesh screen (1/8 to 1/4 inch aperture, or 0.3-0.6 cm), which can be of a vibrating, rotating, or mechanically cleaned type. The screen is designed to catch coarse materials such as hair, flesh, paunch manure, and floating solids. Removals of 9% of the suspended solids on a 20-mesh screen and 19% on a 30-mesh screen have been reported [15]. The coarser 20-mesh screen gives fewer problems of clogging, but even so the screen must be provided with some type of mechanism to clean it. In practise mechanically cleaned screens using a brush type of cleaner give the best results. Finer settleable solids are removed in a sedimentation tank, which can be of either a rectangular or circular type. The size and design of sedimentation tanks varies widely, but Imhoff tanks with retentions of 1-3 hours have been used in the past in the United States and are reported to remove about 65% of the suspended solids and 35% of BOD [18]. The use of a deep tank can lead to high head loss, or to the need for excavation works to avoid this.

For this reason, longitudinal or radial flow sedimentation tanks are now preferred for new installations in Europe. The usual design criteria for these when dealing with slaughterhouse wastewaters is that the surface loading rate should not exceed 1000 gal/ft2 day (41 m3/m2 day).

As discussed above, the nature of operations within a slaughterhouse means that the wastewater characteristics vary considerably throughout the course of a working day or shift. It is therefore usually necessary to include a balancing tank to make efficient use of any treatment plant and to avoid operational problems. The balancing tank should be large enough to even out the flow of wastewater over a 24 hour period. To be able to design the smallest, and therefore most economical, balancing tank requires a full knowledge of variations in flow and strength throughout the day. This information is often not available, however, and in this case it is usual to provide a balancing tank with a capacity of about two-thirds of the daily flow.

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