Changing turkeys’ diets prevents foodborne ills
Source of Article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/27927386/
Birds that eat natural feed less likely to be contaminated with bad bacteria
updated 1 hour, 35 minutes ago
Thanksgiving turkeys — and other poultry — are less likely to be contaminated with bacteria that can cause food poisoning if the birds chowed on natural feed ingredients, scientists have found.
76 million cases of food
poisoning occur in the
Outbreaks of various pathogens traced to spinach, peanut butter, tomatoes, jalapeño peppers, and other foods have grabbed headlines in recent years. But plants aren't the only food that can become contaminated by disease-causing microbes. Meat can be just as dangerous if not handled properly
pathogens are very prevalent in a lot of our domestic animals, and especially
in poultry," said Dan Donoghue of the
Two food poisoning dangers
These invisible bugs aren't generally a problem when enjoying some roast turkey on Thanksgiving because cooking tends to kill them. But if cooks get sloppy when handling raw birds, the bacteria can be transferred to cooking utensils or other foods, potentially making dinner guests sick to their stomachs.
Campylobacter has been the tougher of the two bacteria to eliminate from poultry because it can't 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 said.
Since antibiotics weren't 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 fed the birds natural feed ingredients, specifically a compound called caprylic acid.
"It’s a medium-chain fatty acid, it's found in cow's milk, and in coconut milk, and it has antibacterial activity," Donoghue said. "We found that when you add it to the diet of poultry, it seems to consistently inhibit or reduce campylobacter colonization of poultry."
Donoghue and his colleagues will publish further research on the antibacterial feed in an upcoming issue of the journal Poultry Science.
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