90% reduction of Salmonella in meat – research update

deMello_Headshot_2015Dr. Amilton de Mello, University of Nevada Assistant Professor and Meat Scientist in the College of Agriculture, Biotechnology and Natural Resources (CABNR) has been hard at work since he began his career at UNR under a year ago. Amilton completed his PhD at University of Nebraska, and I worked with Nebraska Extension. However, we didn’t meet until we both got to Nevada, so you can imagine that in addition to educational, programming, and research similarities we have the Huskers in common. It will be fun to see what future projects and collaboration we will work on.

Dr. de Mello and his graduate student recently presented some research at the annual American Meat Science Association (AMSA) Reciprocal Meat Conference (RMC) in Texas. I think they are doing great work that will of value to many, and will help ensure that in the U.S. we continue to have one of the safest food supplies in the world.

Salmonella is one of the most common causes of food illness in the U.S. The bacteria can cause fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping. Unfortunately, in young children and the elderly, as well as those with weak immune systems (immunocompromised), it can be fatal. Annually, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports Salmonella is estimated to cause one million food illnesses, 19,000 hospitalizations, and 380 deaths in the U.S.

In the lab, the salmonella bacteria was inoculated on the refrigerated meat and poultry trim, the treatment bacteriophages (Myoviridae bacteriophages) were then applied, and the meat was ground. Bacteriophages are viruses which are commonly found in the environment, but they ONLY are harmful to specific  bacterial cells and are HARMLESS to humans, animals, and plants. The bacteriophages work by invading the cells of the bacteria and destroy them.

De Mellos says, “we were able to reduce salmonella by as much as 90% in ground poultry, ground pork, and ground beef. We’re excited to be able to show such good results, and hope this can be adopted by the meat industry to increase food safety.”

Isn’t new research great?! If you want to follow what Amilton is working on for Nevada meat producers check our his Facebook page Horizons – Nevada’s Meat Newsletter. Full and original article can be found at UNR’s NEVADAToday.

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Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic

I have had a lot fun experimenting with cooking in my clay pot. The first thing we made were the Cornish Game Hens, which were good, but they were not great. In my research of clay pot cooking I found a recipe for chicken with 40 cloves of garlic – yum! As a garlicholic I knew we had to try this.

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I covered my pot in a 5-gallon bucket worth of water (perfect size I might add), and let it soak while I peeled 40 cloves of garlic.
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The garlic, yes I counted to make sure I had 40. Would hate to short change the recipe 🙂

Garlic hack: throw your garlic in the freezer with skin on, I just put it in a ziplock bag (left). When you are ready to use it, pull out what you need (top right), peel it (bottom right), and use as you would with fresh garlic. Fresh garlic can sprout or rot quickly, and it can make your house smell a little fragrant (bologna like). I have had garlic in my freezer up to year, and it is just perfect when I use it!

Claypot chicken - raw
I lightly coated the chicken in olive oil (the recipe calls for butter, but that is too messy for me, as I learned in the Cornish Hen cooking) and seasoned with my favorite poultry rub. I put a few cloves of garlic under it, inside of it, and sprinkled the rest over the top, and put just a touch of lemon juice over the top. Doesn’t it look beautiful?
Clay pot chicken with 40 cloves of garlic-cooked
TAA-DAA!! The last few minutes I cooked it with the lid off so it would brown.

The original recipe called for 50 minutes with the lid on, but it took this one about 70 minutes with the lid on (size of the bird probably has something to do with it). Make sure to check the internal temperature with your meat thermometer to ensure it is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

This recipe was great! The meat was so tender and juicy and the garlic was amazing too. We will definitely be making this again.

Enjoy!

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Essential oils: Can they reduce antibiotic use in livestock?

If your social media pages are anything like mine they are filled with claims that something you eat, drink, or wrap yourself in has miracle and restorative properties. While these products may help you loose weight, look younger, and feel better, is there really really any truth to them?

I recently saw a headline that said researchers have found that essential oils could help reduce antibiotics in poultry. My immediate thought… is this woo or is this true?

MeatingPlace.com reported that Cargill researchers have found that essential oils can be a viable alternative to antibiotics to promote gut health in a poultry feeding program. It was found that certain essential oil compounds, particularly those derived from thyme, cinnamon, and oregano had the most comprehensive effect on overall gut health. Benefits included antimicrobial activity, modulation of immune response, antioxidant activity, improvement of nutrient digestibility, and stimulation of mucus production, the company said.

Cargill indicated the essential oils were particularly efficient in conditions where intestinal infections such as Salmonellosis and Coccidiosis were present, and were most effective when combined with organic acids. In addition, combined results from 12 trials showed that birds given Cargill’s Promote Biacid Nucleus additive, which contains a mixture of seven essential oil compounds, in combination with an antibiotic-free diet, improved body weight gain by 2% and feed conversion by 1.5%, the company said.

Cargill said it has been researching the use of non-medicated feed additives for several years as an alternative to antibiotic growth promoters. Since 2009, it has conducted a total of 77 trials on additives including essential oils, probiotics, yeast derivatives, and medium chain fatty acids. “Only essential oils have both a broad spectrum of activity against pathogens and a direct impact on digestive function,” said Stephanie Ladirat, global technology lead for gut health additives in Cargill’s animal nutrition business.

It is interesting that this research has been going on for seven years, no doubt we will see/hear more about essential oils and natural medicine for animal agriculture in the future. Being the skeptic I am, I have decided to research these essential oils a little further to see what else I can find about their supposed claims to being an alternative to antibiotics. Stay tuned as I will do a follow up post after doing some research.

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Can essential oils be a viable alternative for antibiotics in poultry?

** Note: I am not endorsing essential oils or their use, I am just merely investigating uses in animal agriculture.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

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Top 10 in 2015… Don’t miss these!

Well the 2015 “tops” countdowns have begun…

Today I bring you the Top 10 most read blogposts from 2015 (insert drumroll here).

10. 10 things you may not about GMOs

9. Growing up a rich rancher’s kid

8. Poop Patty… Is there fecal material in your hamburger?

7. Butchers, are you talking to yours? 21 conversations you should be having (if you are not already)

6. Chicken ears – the better to hear you with…

5. Cold temps cause frozen ears…

4. Do you know where your food comes from? Take the quiz. 

3. Processed meats and cancer: Fearmongering or true concern? 

2. Meat labeling: no added hormones and no antibiotics

1. Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more 

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And for fun, these posts were some of the tops in 2014…

Dumping Discover

Meat labeling: Grain-fed and grass-fed

Meat labeling: Organic and natural programs

Gluten free myths

Jello, lipstick, and marshmallows –  oh my! 

I hope all of you have a great New Year full of blessings and prosperity. See you in 2016!

Dr. Lindsay Chichester

Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

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Hormone use in poultry: Myth!

USPoultry recently released a video explaining a common myth — poultry are raised with additional growth hormones. This is not true, especially since it is against the law!  Learn more about the poultry industry and what is contributing to larger and faster growing birds if it is not hormones.

I have blogged about hormones in these other posts:

No added hormones & antibiotics – meat labeling terms (3)

Is the beef industry sustainable: A look at grass-fed, hormones, growth promotants, and more

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

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Poultry without the poultry show

Poultry shows in Nebraska were banned in 2015 due to Avian Influenza. But the youth at our county show did a great job with other poultry projects/contests…

** Note: to protect the anonymity of the youth I have covered all personal information as well as their faces.

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Egg carton art! How creative are they?
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2-D and 3-D art!

And let’s not forget the rooster crowing contest… I bet you can pick out the crowd favorite.

What did your kids and/or county fairs do this year if poultry were banned?

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
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Scientists develop effective bird flu vaccine

2015 will go down as a devastating year for the poultry industry, with Avian Influenza (i.e. bird flu) as the culprit. Whether you are a poultry and/or egg farmer, a youth preparing for a 4-H/FFA show, or are just trying to buy eggs at the grocery store – you have probably been affected.

Several states have cancelled their youth poultry shows and exhibitions. This year at our county fair  (in Nebraska) we are looking forward to the alternative poultry projects of an educational showmanship poster contest, poultry art, coops/feeders/waterers, and the rooster crowing contest. The poultry (without the poultry) contest should still be educational and fun.

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services (APHIS) has reported that more than 48 million birds have been affected by the current avian influenza outbreak which has hit 15 states.

Aviary Systems (2)_UNL photo-finalThe Associated Press (AP) announced Tom Vilsack, U.S. Agriculture Secretary, reported scientists have developed a vaccine strain has tested 100% effective in protecting chickens from the bird flu. Testing is currently underway to see if it also protects turkeys. If it does, the agency plans to quickly license it for widespread production and is seeking funding from the Office of Management and Budget to stockpile it nationally.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to get a lot of folks working collaboratively together and we stockpile enough so that if this does hit and hits us hard we’re in a position to respond quickly,” Vilsack said. “Developing a vaccine targeted to the H5N2 virus that has killed 48 million birds since early March in 15 states, including hardest-hit Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska, is one aspect of planning for a potential recurrence of the bird flu,”  says Vilsack.

Scientists believe the virus is spread through the droppings of wild birds migrating north to nesting grounds. They’re concerned it could return this fall when birds fly south for the winter or again next spring. Southern and eastern states including Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia, states that raise chickens for meat, are worried it could spread there next.

Not all poultry producers are on the same page when it comes to using vaccine to fight an outbreak.

Turkey producers tend to favor vaccination to protect flocks because turkey immune systems appear more vulnerable to viruses. Some egg producers and farmers who raise broilers (chickens produced for meat) often resist vaccination programs because of the possible impact on export markets. U.S. producers export nearly $6 billion worth of poultry and egg products yearly with about $5 billion of that being chicken meat.

“There are many unanswered questions that must be addressed before any strong consideration is given to a vaccination program,” said Tom Super, a spokesman for the National Chicken Council, which represents 95% of U.S. broiler raising chicken farmers. “Two concerns of several are the effectiveness of the vaccine and potential impacts on trade.”

Meetings also have been held with importers of U.S. poultry products to try and convince them not to block all poultry imports if a vaccination program is enacted in response to another outbreak. “That’s still an open question and we’ve been working with a number of countries today to get them convinced to ban regionally as opposed to the entire country,” Vilsack said.

Many countries have a strict policy of refusing to accept meat from nations using a vaccine because it can be difficult to discern through testing whether birds were infected with an active virus or were vaccinated, said James Sumner, president of the USA Poultry & Egg Export Council. Even during the current outbreak which affected 15 states, about 10 trade partners banned poultry imports from the entire U.S., Sumner said.

Vilsack said it’s uncertain when a vaccine would be ready for large-scale production. Even once stockpiled, a vaccination program would not begin until the USDA, consulting with affected states, decided it was necessary to control an outbreak.

Read the entire AP article here.

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
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Avian Influenza: Guidelines for Backyard Poultry Flocks

The Nebraska Department of Agriculture recently decided to cancel all poultry shows, sales, and swap-meets as a proactive measure designed to increase biosecurity and decrease the potential spread of Avian Influenza.

This article (written by myself and Dr. Sheila Purdum, UNL Poultry Specialist) will provide information about Avian Influenza and suggest recommendations for small or backyard flock owners. Avian Influenza can affect all birds, regardless of housing arrangement or size of flock.

What birds can be infected? The AI virus will infect: chickens, turkeys, quail, ducks, geese, guinea fowl, and a wide variety of other birds.

Avian Influenza Symptoms: Lethargic (tired) or listless, depression, decreased egg production, coughing, sneezing, wet eyes, huddling, ruffled feathers, decreased food and/or water consumption, or a high temperature/fever. In three to five days there may be an 80-90% mortality rate. In your flock, if mortality increases, contact your local veterinarian immediately so they can help you get viable swabs to a lab as soon as possible.

Understanding Influenza: Cases of AI started popping up on the West Coast in December 2014 and have since moved east. The influenza virus is not new or uncommon. People get seasonal influenza (Types A and B) and swine get influenza (Type A). Most currently, we are familiar with Avian Influenza (Type A) which affects all types of birds. Within each type there are various H (16) and N (9) types, hence why you may see the viruses reported as H5N2. Additionally, viruses get together and exchange genetic material, re-sorting and mutating – making it challenging to effectively treat a virus.

Avian Influenza can either be referred to as Highly Pathogenic (HP) or Low Pathogenic (LP). High pathogenic indicates it is a severe and highly infectious disease – to cause an outbreak, only the amount of virus that will fit on the head of a pin is needed. With HP, there may be an 80-95% mortality rate in as little as five days. The HP is usually types H5 or H7. Low pathogenic on the other hand is a mild disease, with a low mortality rate usually caused from a secondary bacterial infection. The LP types are H1, H3, H5, H7, or H9.

Highly Pathogenic flocks DO NOT enter the food supply. They are humanely euthanized and properly disposed of by composting or burial.

Sources of infection and spread: Wild migratory water fowl are the natural host, which means they can become infected but they do not generally get sick and/or die from the infection. However, they will spread it to other healthy hosts (i.e. birds), making them sick or resulting in death. The wild migratory water fowl will shed large amounts of virus into the environment via ponds, waterways, as well as onto grain fields in the spring or fall when large numbers congregate together. Sparrows act as a bridge between waterways where the virus host birds have been and poultry barns or backyard flocks. Sparrows are attracted to small puddles of water in which they bathe, drink, or look for insects to eat. In addition to infected birds visiting your healthy birds, shared equipment and people are sources of possible contamination. The AI can also be spread via wind – more specifically, dust and feathers may be vectors (although this is not the primary method of how the virus is spread). Nasal secretions may also be a source of contamination.

How long can the virus survive? Survival of the influenza virus depends on the strain. Fortunately, highly pathogenic (HP) strains do not usually survive as long as LP strains.

  • The influenza virus will survive on a clean surface for two days.
  • In fecal material or compost, the virus will survive for about 10 days (very important to know if you are doing dead animal composting).
  • In liquid manure, the influenza virus can survive in winter for 105 days.
  • While feces protect the virus, temperature also has a dramatic effect:
    • If feces are at 40o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive 30-35 days
    • If feces are at 70o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive seven days
    • If feces are at 90o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive four days
    • If the drinking/bathing water is at 66o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive 94-160 days
    • If the drinking/bathing water is at 88o Fahrenheit, the virus will survive 26-30 days

Things that help the virus thrive: Cold or freezing temperatures, fresh or slightly salty water, grain fields or water located in convenient locations, inadequate biosecurity, and possibly strong winds.

Things that hurt the virus: warm weather, dryness/sunshine, salt water, most disinfectants, high level of biosecurity, frozen lakes/rivers, and a surveillance program.

Is there treatment options available for the birds? Currently, there is no immunity in poultry flocks as they are not regularly vaccinated. At this time, vaccinations are only permitted for LP flocks. The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and state vets are determining if vaccination can be used as an emergency procedure for HP birds. At this time, vaccine is not available and still under review.

What if I find a dead wild bird at/near my home or an area I visit regularly? To error on the side of caution, it is recommended to call your State Veterinarian (a list of state vets and their contact information can be found at: https://www.avma.org/advocacy/stateandlocal/stateanimalhealthofficials/pages/default.aspx) and arrange to have a sample sent to the National Poultry Disease Lab in Ames, Iowa. Your local veterinarian can assist with getting the sample packaged and sent. Again, it is important to note, if you have wild birds on your property, you should proceed with strict biosecurity protocols for your backyard poultry flock’s health and safety.

What should I use to disinfect shoes/equipment/eggs? A low to mild Clorox solution (three parts bleach to two parts water), soapy sanitizers, or other disinfectants mixed per label instructions.

What happens if I have to depopulate my flock? Thoroughly disinfect everything. Allow the amount of time needed, as provided above, to pass. During this time, review your biosecurity plan and look for areas that could be made stronger. Do you know when and/or how your flock became infected? What will you change as a result?

Risk to humans: The risk of contracting AI is low to negligible in humans. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that to date, there have been no reported illnesses or spread to human hosts. Precautions are recommended for workers depopulating and euthanizing HP flocks in large barns. First signs of symptoms for this potential population is respiratory problems and/or conjunctivitis, anti-viral drugs may be given as a precaution.

Are poultry products still safe to consume? Yes! Avian flu CANNOT be transmitted through safely handled and properly cooked poultry meat and/or egg products. The World Health Organization (WHO) has determined HP can survive in poultry, but keep in mind, HP flocks do not enter the food supply! If you notice a bird in your backyard flock has come down with the AI symptoms, do not consume that bird! Contact your local veterinarian and dispose of it as directed. Table eggs sold in retail markets are sanitized prior to human consumption. If you are raising/buying eggs that are locally sourced, ensure from the supplier they are being properly sanitized.

What do the next six months look like? The U.S. has the strongest surveillance program in the world. Unfortunately, this is not over yet and the impact on the poultry and egg industry is unknown. The number of cases will hopefully decrease over the summer as temperatures increase. However, the virus outbreaks may increase again in the fall as migratory birds go to fields to forage for grains.

What can I do to protect my flock? Biosecurity = risk management! Put as many procedures in place as possible to prevent the introduction of disease causing organisms into your barns and onto your farm.

  • Increase the level of biosecurity!
  • Bring birds indoors, get them away from open sources of water that other birds are drinking from or defecating in.
  • Provide clean and sanitary water to your birds:
    • If your flock is drinking from standing water sources, those water sources need to be completely blocked off so that small wild birds cannot access the water, thus potentially contaminating your flock.
    • If you are not able to use clean well water, water from other sources will need to be sanitized before it is used or may cause disease outbreak.
    • The AI virus will survive for longer periods of time in silt and mud in cool temperatures at the bottom of ponds (at 63o F, the virus will survive up to 100).
  • Do not allow your birds to graze or be on pastures where wild birds have access.
  • Limit traffic to your flock and your facility. If you are selling eggs or meat, consider meeting customers off your farm to decrease the potential for the AI virus to come to your farm.
  • Only allow authorized personnel to be near your poultry. This may be just immediately family. Do not allow any unnecessary visitors.
  • Determine if your personal biosecurity plan is strict enough. Do you have a sanitizing foot bath? Do you have a vehicle or equipment sanitizing plan?
  • Do you have a plan for people to change clothes before and after working with or near poultry?
  • If traveling out of state or to another poultry facility please use all good biosecurity precautions.
  • New stock should only be introduced from sources you are sure are AI free and not from areas in or near an AI outbreak.
  • If you are selling eggs: thoroughly clean and disinfect each egg prior to giving to the client. Only re-use clean cartons (no debris or dust).
  • If you and/or your family have visited a state park or other common place where water fowl frequent, please use extra precaution on cleaning shoes, vehicles, clothes, or any equipment to ensure you do not infect your flock.

Sources:

Carver, Donna (2015). Presenting avian influenza in backyard poultry flocks. North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service.

Purdum, S. (2015 April). H5N2 Avian Flu. UNL MarketJournal.

USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. (2015 June). Avian Influenza Disease.

USDA: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. (2015 June). Update on Avian Influenza Findings.

Wojcinski, H. (2015). Avian Influenza: What you need to know. Hybrid Genetics. Recorded presentation.

Aviary Systems (2)_UNL photo-final

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
– Twitter/Instagram (agwithdrlindsay)
– Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/agwithdrlindsay)
– Pinterest (Lindsay Chichester-Medahunsi)

Avian Influenza-Nebraska Update

Avian Influenza has been a catastrophic event for the poultry industry across the U.S. Jenny has summarized the message we are getting in Nebraska, but I think it is applicable to poultry farmers and consumers everywhere.

JenREESources's Extension Blog

Dr. Sheila Purdum, Nebraska Extension Poultry Specialist asked us to share the following

Photo courtesy Nebraska Extension Poultry page: https://animalscience.unl.edu/anscextensionpoultry Photo courtesy Nebraska Extension Poultry website.

information about avian influenza.  Unfortunately, Nebraska has HPAI H5N2 in a commercial flock of laying hens in Dixon County. This is the same virus that has been infecting turkeys in MN and WI and laying hens in the state of IA for the past 3 months. It is a deadly flu virus to poultry, killing as many as 90% of the flock within 3 days of the first symptoms. The major source of the virus has been migrating waterfowl, but it is believed to be airborne now traveling on numerous vectors to include people’s clothing, vehicles and other animals that may have come into contact with migrating waterfowl excrement, dust, etc.

Biosecurity:

The good news is that Biosecurity measures such as disinfecting all equipment coming into contact with your bird’s environment…

View original post 472 more words

Meat, poultry, and eggs: What does the USDA test for? Fun Fact Friday

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) just released the annual U.S. National Residue Program for Meat, Poultry, and Egg Products, a.k.a. the “Blue Book” which summarizes the process that the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) will use to sample meat, poultry, and egg products in 2015 for chemical contaminants of public health concern (i.e. pesticides, hormones, heavy metals, antibiotics, etc.). The chemical compounds tested for include approved and unapproved veterinary drugs, pesticides, and environmental compounds.

Not only is testing done on meat and eggs raised/grown in the U.S., but also on imported goods. However, the testing is different and somewhat limited on imported products (page 9 for more details).

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Dr. Lindsay can also be found on:

– Website (http://food.unl.edu/ag-and-food)
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