Novel technology to reduce human food-borne pathogens in poultry

ood-borne illness is a significant worldwide public health problem. The Council for Agricul-tural Science and Technology estimates that as many as 9,000 deaths and 6.5 to 33 million ill-nesses in the U.S. each year are caused by the in-gestion of contaminated foods. Salmonella and Campylobacter are by far the principal pathogens derived from poultry that infect humans through food. Newly hatched chicks are susceptible to infection by very low numbers of pathogens, with increas-ing resistance as birds and, presumably, normal enteric microflora mature. Competitive exclu-sion relies on administering beneficial bacteria to chicks to accelerate intestinal maturity and reduce the prevalence of Salmonella and Cam-pylobacter infections. A team at the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) led the way in develop-ing these products for the U.S. poultry industry.The team’s technology is set apart from earlier products/discoveries in several ways. Defined bacterial cultures were developed after screening more than eight million individual enteric bac-teria; the developed cultures consist of organ-isms identified as “generally recognized as safe,” and therefore meet regulatory requirements for immediate use; and selection criteria were devel-oped with production cost-efficiency in mind. This technology led to the formation of an Ar-kansas-based startup company that has licensed the product. The company employs 12 people and, with a subcontractor, accounts for more than 80 sales and technical support staff distrib-uting the technology worldwide. Product developed from this research has been field tested in millions of birds—resulting in no-table reductions in pathogen contamination and mortality, and improved chick health. First made available in 2004, the technology made a profit the first year (approximately 100 million birds treated). In 2005, 1-billion doses were sold, and in 2006 the company expects a 50% in-crease in total usage. The product is being mar-keted in South Korea, Japan and Mexico, and six additional countries are in the final stages of acquiring import permits. An extrapolation of current data indicates poul-try treated with this probiotic translates to a greater than $6 million increase in production yields for every 300 million birds treated per year in the U.S.
Award Year: