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A patented compound 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 animals 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. Anderson's team obtained similar results in reducing the amount of E. coli and Salmonella bacteria in tests with 100 swine and 100 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 percent to zero in turkeys, and from 37 percent to 2 percent in broilers.
Anderson developed this experimental chlorate five years ago, at the urging of the National Cattlemens 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.
Read more about this and other ARS food safety research in the October 2006 issue of Agricultural Research magazine.
ARS is the U.S. Department of Agricultures chief scientific research agency.