Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 7/5/2011
Publication Date: 8/1/2012
Citation: Callaway, T.R., Edrington, T.S., Harvey, R.B., Anderson, R.C., Nisbet, D.J. 2012. Prebiotic use in food animals to reduce foodborne pathogens and disease. In: Corcionivoschi, N., editor. Prebiotics Usage in Romania. Bucharest, Romania: Univ. Bucharest Press. p. 179-204.
Technical Abstract: As our understanding of the complexities of the gastrointestinal microbial ecosystem has grown in recent years, so has interest in utilizing the natural power contained within this ecosystem as a tool in our arsenal to improve both animal and human health. The diversity of the microbial population of the intestinal tract and skin is a natural resource that can be harnessed, and stimulating the commensal (or beneficial members) of the native intestinal flora may make it more difficult for pathogenic bacteria to become established in food animals. Prebiotics offer an outstanding tool for utilizing the native microbial population against diseases of food animals. These products are indigestible by the host animal and provide food or a limiting nutrient to some or all members of the microbial population. Previous research with prebiotics in food animals has not always been successful because of a general lack of understanding of the microbial ecosystem and which ones were utilizing the prebiotic compounds. As molecular techniques have improved the depth and breadth of our understanding, we are now able to tailor prebiotic feeding to manipulate specific microbial populations. However, prebiotic prices currently remain high for use in commercial agriculture, and thus are primarily associated with human foods and pet feeds. Yet as further research into prebiotics demonstrates their ability to prevent colonization of food animals with pathogens that affect human and animal health, the demand will increase, driving down costs and allowing widespread utilization in agricultural applications. Thus, by enhancing our knowledge of how the microbial population of the intestinal tract interacts with the animal and other members of the microbial ecosystem, we can further enhance growth efficiency, productivity, animal health, and food safety.