Skip to main content
ARS Home » Plains Area » College Station, Texas » Southern Plains Agricultural Research Center » Food and Feed Safety Research » Research » Research Project #430283

Research Project: Identification of the Ecological Niches and Development of Intervention Strategies to Reduce Pathogenic Foodborne Pathogens in Poultry

Location: Food and Feed Safety Research

2016 Annual Report


1a. Objectives (from AD-416):
Objective 1: Identify and develop key strategies including waste, vaccine, and lighting management strategies for use at animal production facilities that mitigate and reduce the bacterial load of foodborne pathogens without the use of antibiotics during pre-harvest production. Sub-objective 1.A: Determine the effects of vaccine management programs on the viability of pathogenic bacteria in poultry. Sub-objective 1.B: Determine the effects of Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase on the viability of pathogenic bacteria in poultry. Objective 2: Identify ecological reservoirs of pathogens and the potential role of dispersal of animal waste that enable the retention of foodborne pathogens within animal production facilities and the surrounding environments. Sub-objective 2.A: Determine the dispersal of bacteria including antibiotic resistance (AR) from animal production facilities, animal waste, or carrion decomposition sites by arthropods. Sub-objective 2.B: Determine the effects that management practices have on environmental dispersal (such as by arthropods, machinery, environmental elements, etc.) of bacteria and antibiotic resistance (AR) from animal production facilities, animal waste, or carrion decomposition sites. Objective 3: Investigate potential alternatives to antibiotics, such as chitosan preparations and other commercially available products on the cecal levels of Salmonella and Campylobacter using an experimental model and metagenomics. Sub-objective 3.A: Determine the bactericidal effects of chitosan as a feed additive against human foodborne enteropathogen colonization in poultry. Sub-objective 3.B: Determine the bactericidal and anti-coccidial effects of chlorate as a feed additive against human foodborne enteropathogen colonization in poultry. Objective 4: Investigate the interaction between yeast and fungi and foodborne bacteria to determine their role as commensals, inhibitors, or their use as alternatives to antibiotics as pre-and probiotics. Sub-objective 4.A: Identify fungi and bacteria that will reduce or control the growth of Salmonella and Campylobacter. Objective 5: Investigate the potential for use and the mechanism used by specific nutritional supplements to inhibit the transfer of genetic resistance elements, such as plasmids, by conjugation between commensal and foodborne bacteria. Sub-objective 5.A: Determine the effect of Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) on antimicrobial resistant bacteria in vitro and in vivo.


1b. Approach (from AD-416):
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to monitor multistate foodborne outbreaks that impact health of the nation over the last 10 years. One area of concern is the reduction of Salmonella as a foodborne pathogen. Despite control efforts that cost over a half a billion dollars annually, foodborne illnesses due to Salmonella continues to impact the consumer. Poultry are commonly identified as a major source of Salmonella. To develop urgently needed new control strategies against Salmonella, we will take a multi-faceted, but integrated approach to identify and evaluate factors at the pre-harvest level that can be used. Based on previous research and collaborations with industry, we will identify and modify management practices that may decrease foodborne pathogen load, as well as environmental conditions associated with higher risk that would be conducive to pathogen survival and growth. Cost effective alternatives will be suggested throughout the poultry production phase. Environmental areas of concern, such as poultry waste and insect vectors will be included. At a more micro-level, interactions among fungi, protozoa, and other microbes will be evaluated under commercial production practices with the outcome of proposed new strategies for pathogen reduction. Campylobacter, a foodborne pathogen in poultry, has become an increasing concern due to the development of antibiotic resistance, especially to fluoroquinolones. The proposed research will investigate strategies to reduce pre-harvest Campylobacter, which will enhance the microbiological safety of poultry. This is important for food safety, but also for the reduction of potential antimicrobial resistance in animal agriculture and public health.


3. Progress Report:
This is a new project that replaced 3091-32000-032-00D, and is expanding upon the work of the precursor project. An initial feeding trial of the gut enzyme, intestinal alkaline phosphatase (IAP), was completed to the data analysis stage to determine if the enzyme prevents Salmonella typhimurium infections in broilers. Ongoing studies established that coarse molecular weight chitosan reduced the overall bacterial diversity and bacterial populations found in broilers. Research on several bacterial and fungal populations is underway to establish if there is any correlation with broiler chickens raised in high producing houses versus low producing houses. The results will establish the potential of beneficial bacterial/fungal populations as probiotics for the control of foodborne pathogens, thus reducing the need for conventional antibiotics.


4. Accomplishments
1. Native microbial populations affect Salmonella in poultry production systems. Current poultry management programs are standardized on single production areas, called poultry production complexes. However, poultry production parameters and food safety parameters can vary dramatically between the individual farms within a complex. ARS researchers at College Station, Texas, identified 14 bacterial and 28 fungal populations that occur in high-producing versus low-producing farms or in Salmonella-positive versus Salmonella-negative farms. The next phase of this work will be to isolate the different populations and study their attributes to control foodborne pathogens. This work will assist the poultry industry to develop new approaches to minimize the impact of harmful microorganisms in production environments. The impact to the consumer will be safer and more wholesome poultry food products.


5. Significant Activities that Support Special Target Populations:
None.