News 1 commentlast update:6 Aug 2012

Chlorate additive cuts Salmonella and E.coli

A patented feed additive developed by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists could help reduce the risk of Salmonella and Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection from meat or poultry products.

Researchers led by microbiologist Robin Anderson at the ARS Food and Feed Safety Research Unit (FFSRU) in College Station, Texas, mixed a chlorate-based compound into livestock feed or water two days before slaughter. When fed at roughly 0.5 to 5 percent of an animal's diet, this powder-like additive was very effective in reducing Salmonella and E. coli O157:H7 in the animal's gastrointestinal tract.

In studies with cattle, levels fell from 100,000 E. coli cells per gram of fecal material to 100 cells per gram. Similar results were obtained in swine and sheep. To test the chlorate compound in poultry, FFSRU microbiologist Allen Byrd gave it to more than 200 market-age turkeys and 2,000 broiler chickens 48 hours before they went to processing.

The incidence of Salmonella dropped from 35% to zero in turkeys, and from 37% to 2% in broilers. Anderson developed this experimental chlorate five years ago, at the urging of the National Cattlemen's Beef Association, which supports research on novel ways to reduce E. coli and other problematic microbes in beef. The swine research was financially supported with funding from the National Pork Board.

ARS has patented the technology, and FFSRU researchers are working to further develop it to make it ready for approval by regulatory agencies.

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