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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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

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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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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:

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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:

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