Fighting Salmonella to Assure Safe Poultry

Published with permission by Poultry Times.  Originally posted October 6, 2016.

By Katie Keiger

It is difficult to remember that salmonella is alive and not just a cause of human sickness. However, this realization has been around for many years and through studying the harmful bacteria, scientists have found that all bacteria have natural predators called bacteriophages, most of which have no effects on humans.

Nevada Today has reported that the University of Nevada has begun focusing on this trait of salmonella and the results have been promising.

Assistant Professor Amilton de Mello of the university’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources, said that his research was able to reduce salmonella by as much as 90 percent in ground poultry.

De Mello experimented by added inMyoviridae bacteriophages to different meat infected with four types of salmonella after being refrigerated.

“The results are very encouraging and we’re hoping this can be adopted by the meat industry to increase food safety.” De Mello said.

The research de Mello is leading is not limited to post-harvest interventions, but also pre-slaughtered physical conditions of the birds.

Aerin Einstein-Curtis of Feed Navigatorreports that there has been research involving bacteriophages in living animals, young pigs and Escherichia coli (E. coli) and other bacterial infections.

According to results in the published journal, Livestock Science, the piglets that had bacteriophages mixed into their feed experienced reduced levels of bacteria as well as a protective effect.

With the recent push towards no antibiotics in animals due to the potential superbugs, bacteriophages may be the best alternative to keeping birds healthy.

Salmonella does not only hurt humans but causes illness in chickens and can be transferred from live birds to humans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that symptoms of chickens are similar to the symptoms in humans, diarrhea, vomiting, fever and cramps. Therefore, treating salmonella prior to slaughter is crucial for the safety of the workers in broiler houses.

Bacteriophages and their potential uses require further research before they are released onto the battlefield fighting salmonella. However, the assault against the deadly bacteria continues in other ways.

The USDA announced in February new federal standards to reduce salmonella and campylobacter in raw poultry products. The USDA’s Food and Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) are using stricter “pathogen reduction performance standards to assess the food safety performance of establishments.” The new standards are expected to reduce salmonella by at least 30 percent.

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