Antimicrobial firm targets pig and poultry processors

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance

An Australian company has developed a product to improve poultry
production without having to pump chickens and pigs full of
antibiotics.

Chemeq's product is a polymeric antimicrobial, which can be put in chicken feed or water. It kills bacteria without entering the bloodstream of the chicken, making it safe for human consumption.

This issue is of critical importance to EU poultry farmers - the European Union has already legislated to ban the use of antibiotics as growth promotants from 2006.

Antibiotics are often used in poultry production to promote growth and to prevent them from catching diseases. The problem however is that low doses don't kill all bacteria, allowing the most resistant bacteria to grow and potentially develop into superbugs.

According to a recent American Academy of Microbiology report, The Role of Antibiotics in Agriculture,​ intensive and extensive antibiotic use leads to the establishment of a pool of antibiotic resistance genes in the environment.

The AAM report claims that both pathogenic bacteria and organisms that do not cause disease may become resistant to antibiotics, and bacteria of human and animal origin can serve as reservoirs for resistance genes.

As a result, there is a growing worldwide gap for a market-ready replacement for antibiotics. Commercial producers of poultry and pigs, operating at very low margins, need to protect their livestock from disease-causing bacteria that are becoming increasingly resistant to partially effective antibiotics.

But at the same time, regulatory authorities in Europe and elsewhere are rapidly legislating to prevent the use of some antibiotics being used for animal purposes. This leaves a huge gap for a new antimicrobial, exclusively for animal use.

Chemeq​ claims to have extensively tested its polymeric antimicrobial against disease causing bacteria, including antibiotic resistant 'superbugs'. In vitro results proved that even after more than 100 successive exposures to Chemeq's polymeric antimicrobial, E.coli bacteria did not become resistant.

Chemeq has been granted patents in more than 80 countries with more than 175 patents pending. The company claims to not be aware of any comparable competing technologies.

According to Australian news provider www.industrysearch.com.au, Chemeq has just built a factory south of Perth to manufacture the product and made its first sale, worth $1.5 million, last month to a South African agent for poultry producers.

The global market for biological disease control and productivity enhancement products in poultry and pigs is already valued at over US$3 billion per annum, and is likely to continue to grow.

Chemeq believes that it only needs to penetrate a fraction of this market to become highly profitable, and has identified its medium-term target market segment as the highly concentrated, large scale, poultry and pig producers.

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