Virus cocktails and ice guns could help to tackle food poisoning risk

Sandrine Ceurstemont, Horizon: The EU Research & Innovation Magazine

Harmful bacteria found in chickens that can cause food poisoning outbreaks and devastate poultry flocks could be better controlled with innovative new solutions being developed by researchers.

Bacterial infections are a major problem for poultry producers. Outbreaks of E. coli, for example, can spread quickly through a flock, resulting in high mortality and loss of income for farmers. Other bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter might not be as serious to the birds, but can lead to illness in humans if consumed.

Although antibiotics are often used to help combat infections in poultry flocks, overuse can lead bacteria to evolve resistance to the drugs, making them even harder to treat in both animals and humans. The use of antibiotics in groups of animals for preventative purposes is due to be banned in the EU from January 2022.

Currently in Europe, preventative measures such as vaccination are used to control the spread of harmful bacteria on poultry farms. Strict hygiene measures and frequent testing in broiler houses are also recommended. But economic loss from bacterial infections is still significant, where it is estimated to be as high as 3 billion euros per year for Salmonella in Europe.

> Source: PHYS.ORG