Chlorate compound stops Salmonella in its tracts

By George Reynolds

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Salmonella, Bacteria

Mixing a chlorate-based compound into livestock feed or water could
dramatically reduce Salmonella and E. coli in gastrointestinal
tracts, claim researchers.

When fed at roughly between half and five percent of diets, the compound proved effective in reducing positive tests in a variety of animals, found US Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists, led by microbiologist Robin Anderson at the Food and Feed Safety Research Unit (FFSRU).

Preventing Salmonella and other potentially harmful pathogens in the gastrointestinal tracts is important as faeces from infected animals will contain the infection shed from the tract, which can lead to serious contamination issues on the farm and at the slaughter plant.

Some livestock, after initial infection with Salmonella, can also enter a carrier state in which they show no clinical signs of infection. Transportation and marketing activities can stress the animals, causing Salmonella to reemerge.

The new compound could, therefore, be effective against both detected and dormant undetectable Salmonella.

FFSRU results show that in cattle 100,000 E. coli cells per gram of faecal material fell to 100 cells per gram following a chlorate compound feed . Thousand-fold reductions in numbers of Salmonella and E. coli 0157:H7 bacteria in more than 100 sheep and swine were observed.

More than 200 turkeys and 2000 Broiler chickens were tested in the same manner, by microbiologist Allen Byrd, working with the Anderson team. Giving a chlorate compound to market age birds prior to processing led to reduction of Salmonella in turkeys from 35 per cent to zero during the 48 hours before slaughter. In broiler chickens positive samples dropped from 37 per cent to 2 per cent.

Further tests by animal scientist Leon Kubena revealed the compound also prevented Salmonella in molting hens.

The ARS patented technology is now awaiting approval from the Food and Drug Administration, before it can be tested on commercial farms.

Illness caused by Salmonella can be fatal and is always unpleasant. This intestinal pathogen, usually transmitted by raw or undercooked foods, can cause fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate about 40,000 cases of Salmonella infection, or salmonellosis, are reported in the United States each year. But many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, so the actual number may be up to 30 times greater.

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