Raleigh, N.C. – Scientists in the U.S. may have found a way to eradicate salmonella in poultry by working from the inside out.
The scientists, who are based at the North Carolina State University, are using a technique to manipulate bacteria that live in the intestines of chickens, reports the NewsObserver.com.
The researchers say they will try to identify microscopic elements in the birds’ intestines that might fend off salmonella. The aim is to encourage those “good” bacteria to flourish.
“We will be looking to see if there are bugs in the chickens’ gut that can exclude salmonella, and therefore lower the risk they will carry a food-borne disease,” Matthew Koci, associate professor in the Department of Poultry Science at the university, told the NewsObserver.com.
The scientists work on creating a salmonella-free chicken stems from research in microbiomes, or the set of bacteria, viruses and fungi that populate the intestines of animals, including humans.
NewsObserver.com reports that microbiomes can influence a wide range of health factors, from disease resistance to digestion.
Why don’t the chickens get sick?
The scientists will also explore why chickens can have salmonella bacteria in their stomach but don’t suffer any adverse effects themselves, says the NewsObserver.com.
“Poultry don’t get sick from salmonella,” Hosni Hassan, professor of microbiology at NCSU and the project’s lead researcher, told the NewsObserver.com. “But when we eat the chicken, we get sick. We want to know how the microbiome of the chickens allows salmonella to survive there happily.”
“We are looking at the project two ways: in terms of eliminating salmonella from the poultry, and educating a new generation about how to handle food,” adds Hassan.
The university reports that the U.S. Department of Agriculture gave both Koci and Hassan a five-year US$2.5-million grant earlier this year to stamp out salmonella.