November 27, 2008

Giving turkeys natural feed ingredients can prevent human food poisoning


Feeding turkeys natural feed ingredients will cut down the chances of human food poisoning, according to US research.


Dan Donoghue of the University of Arkansas in the American Chemical Society's Global Challenges podcast identified the compound called caprylic acid to prevent turkeys and other poultry from being contaminated with bacteria. 


About 76 million cases of food poisoning occur in the United States every year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Donoghue pointed out that food-borne pathogens are very prevalent in a lot of our domestic animals, and especially in poultry. The two biggest bacterial contaminants of poultry are the well-known Salmonella, and the perhaps less well-known Campylobacter, which is actually the most common cause of food poisoning in the US and the world. Signs of food poisoning include vomiting and diarrhea.


Campylobacter has been the tougher of the two bacteria to eliminate from poultry because it cannot be eradicated with antibiotics like Salmonella can.


"With poultry, until recently, we haven't had any treatments at all for Campylobacter because it's a normal microflora, so when you use an antibiotic it may reduce the concentration, but not eliminate it," Donoghue explained.


Since antibiotics were not doing the trick, Donoghue decided to see if changing the birds' diet would make a difference — and according to results he and his colleagues published earlier this year (in the July issue of the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology), it did. 


They found that when they add it to the diet of poultry, it seems to consistently inhibit or reduce Campylobacter colonisation of poultry.

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