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E-M:/ Adding bacteria to chickens to protect against salmonella

Enviro-Mich message from "MICHAEL W. MURRAY" <MURRAY@nwf.org>

(Forwarded from EnviroNews Service with permission- info. at bottom or
message. Mike Murray, NWF) 


WASHINGTON, DC, March 19, 1998 (ENS) - A new product created by
researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture reduces potential
salmonella contamination in chickens, Agriculture Secretary Dan
Glickman announced today in a speech at the National Press Club.

The new product preempts the growth of salmonella in chickens'
intestines by introducing a blend of 29 live, non-harmful bacteria naturally
present in healthy adult chickens. 

"Our greatest weapon in the battle to ensure food safety is new
technology," said Secretary Glickman. "Today our priority food safety
research has really paid off, giving us the ability to significantly reduce
potentially dangerous salmonella contamination in the chicken Americans

In field tests involving 80,000 chickens, the product, called PREEMPT,
reduced salmonella from about seven percent in untreated chickens to
zero percent in the treated.The Food and Drug Administration this week
approved PREEMPT, marking the first time FDA has approved a mixture of
bacteria as a type of animal drug known as a "competitive exclusion

It has long been known that mature chickens at least three weeks old
have a natural resistance to salmonella colonization in the intestines.
Scientists have also known that administering baby chicks the bacteria
from mature chickens protected the chicks from salmonella. But
scientists did not know exactly which of the intestinal bacteria were
most effective.

The newly developed mixture can be sprayed in a mist over newly
hatched chicks to give them the same level of salmonella resistance that
develops in an older bird. As the chicks groom their feathers, they ingest
the protective bacteria.

"This approval marks another successful step in the concerted effort
FDA, USDA, and other government agencies have made to enhance the
safety of the nation's food supply," said Michael Friedman, M.D., FDA's
lead deputy commissioner. "FDA is committed to facilitating the
development of any promising technology that can improve food safety
at every stage - from farm to table."

PREEMPT is the result of a public-private partnership. USDA patented the
mixture and granted a private company a licensing agreement to market
the product. A similar product, developed by the same research group, is
now being tested in pigs.

Salmonella may be transmitted to people eating contaminated poultry.
While PREEMPT can help poultry producers reduce the risk of salmonella
contamination, it should be used as part of a comprehensive series of
proper food handling and preparation measures designed to minimize the
risk posed by all potential foodborne pathogens. Chicken must still be
properly handled and thoroughly cooked to be safe.

There are an estimated two million cases of salmonella poisoning each
year in the United States. Of these, about 40,000 are culture-confirmed
cases. Most exposure is from raw or undercooked meat, poultry, milk
and eggs.

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