If successfully commercialised, product could reduce reliance on existing antimicrobials and save farming industry billions of pounds each year
A bacteriophage that can prevent Salmonella in broiler chickens has been developed by scientists at the University of Leicester.
In the EU, around 91,000 cases of Salmonellosis, a severe form of food poisoning, are seen each year. The food-borne illness occurs if Salmonella bacteria is passed from poultry to humans, and costs the farming industry billions to control each year.
Researchers from the Leicester Centre for Bacteriophage Research have developed a liquid bacteriophage which targets multiple strains of Salmonella common throughout UK farming. Bacteriophages are naturally occurring viruses (typically found where there are high levels of bacteria) that can infect and kill specific bacteria and are a promising choice for fighting harmful bacterial pathogens.
During their recent study, published in Emerging Microbes and Infections, scientists tested whether the bacteriophage was effective in differing doses. Six control groups, totalling 672 broiler chickens, were treated.
“We tested whether the bacteriophage product delivered in feed at different doses wiped out Salmonella in chickens over a 42-day period,” explained Dr Anisha Thanki, who led the research. “We found that all those infected and treated with the lowest dose at the beginning of the trial, tested negative for Salmonella on day 42.”
It is hoped the product could be administered directly to poultry and will eventually be available for commercial poultry production.
“If successfully commercialised it could reduce reliance on existing antimicrobials and potentially save the farming industry billions of pounds each year.”
“It’s hugely exciting to have developed a product which could help reduce infection in chickens and prevent Salmonella ultimately entering our food chain,” said Dr Thanki. “If successfully commercialised it could reduce reliance on existing antimicrobials and potentially save the farming industry billions of pounds each year.”
Richard Griffiths, Chief Executive, British Poultry Council said: “British poultry meat producers have worked hard to build a food system that people trust and value. We are always open to new ideas and innovative technologies that endeavour to support producers in ensuring high standards of production from farm to fork.”
The trial was funded by AB Agri, which manufactures animal feed and creates nutrition and technology-based products. Natasha Whenham, Head of Innovation at Innovation Lab by AB Agri said: “Producing safe, affordable food is a top priority for our industry so new technologies that can help us ensure that the food we produce is safe for consumers, whilst minimising production losses for farmers, are welcome.
“Our trials with the University of Leicester demonstrate potential for bacteriophage and we are excited to see how this technology could evolve in the future.”
Image credit: Shutterstock