Protecting Chickens from Salmonella Starts
With the Egg
By Jill Lee
ATHENS, Ga., Dec. 8--A simple three-step process can help poultry
producers keep Salmonella and other food pathogens out of poultry--and may
increase profits. It all begins with the egg, according to scientists at the
Agricultural Research Service.
Three simple steps will reduce the Salmonella threat for
egg-hatching and poultry-production operations," said ARS microbiologist
Mark Berrang. "The steps involve cleaning the eggs, treating chicks with a
safe spray and using beneficial microbes to protect growing birds.
Taking these measures can also net higher prices for those who produce
fertile eggs for meat production, said Berrang, at the agencys
Russell Agricultural Research Center in Athens, Ga.
Berrang outlined the steps as follows:
- Farmers spray freshly laid eggs with a mild detergent and a reliable farm
disinfectant chemical. This lowers surface contamination from bacteria.
- Hatcheries spray a fine mist of hydrogen peroxide or other effective
chemical in the cabinet while chicks are hatching. This protects the newly
hatched chicks from airborne Salmonella.
- Benign gut bacteria from healthy mature chickens can be given to young
chicks to prevent colonization by Salmonella in the grow-out house. As a
result, even if chicks come in contact with Salmonella, they will not
Working with a farmer, Berrang confirmed the effectiveness of the first
step. This producer found cleaning and disinfecting eggs paid for itself.
That's because more of the eggs would could be sold at a higher price. A dozen
clean hatching eggs sell for about 30 cents. Dirty or stained eggs sell for
only about 7 cents a dozen for use in pasteurized egg products.
The difference can be important to a producers pocketbook. ARS
scientists estimate that a large-scale farm selling millions of eggs annually
could recover the cost of the spraying equipment in two years.
Scientific contact: Mark Berrang, ARS Richard B. Russell Agricultural
Research Center, Poultry Processing and
Meat Quality Research Unit , Athens, Ga., phone (706) 546-3551, fax (706)