Wspólnotowy Serwis Informacyjny Badan i Rozwoju - CORDIS

Final Report Summary - POULTRYFLORGUT (Control of the intestinal flora in poultry for ensuring the products safety for human consumers)

European consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety and nutritional quality of their foods, which should be free of pathogens and antibiotic residues. At the same time, food production systems must meet consumers concerns for animal welfare, environment and public health issues, leading to, for instance, rapid changes in poultry management practices (e.g. ban of antibiotic feed additives) and rearing conditions (e.g. free range breeding). However, changes in management practices led an increase of the prevalence of enteric diseases among poultry flocks, linked to digestive bacterial dysfunctions. This could affect the colonisation of the animal intestinal tract by opportunistic bacteria, leading to a degradation of the hygienic quality of animal product meant for consumption.

There is a lack of data on the effect of the nutritional and rearing changes on prevalence of food-borne pathogens in poultry production. In other respects, the ecology of poultry intestinal flora is partially unknown due to the lack of accurate methodology for deeply characterisations. Fortunately, novel molecular techniques provide unique opportunities to investigate bacterial diversity.

The first objective of this project was to concentrate the efforts of several European scientists on the study of the effect of the new European regulations and new tendencies in breeding management on:
(1) prevalence of food-borne pathogens (already known and emerging) at the preharvest level and during products processing;
(2) possible strategies to reduce these contaminations;
(3) socio economic aspects of these changes.
In parallel, a study of the whole intestinal flora of poultry and of its interactions with the food borne pathogens was undertaken, through the development of novel technologies providing tools to help in finding solutions to control intestinal flora and thus to reduce food-borne pathogens prevalence. The first part of the project was aimed to fill out information on different kinds of digestive diseases, like the specific, or necrotic, enteritis or cause of unspecific enteritis origins were collected. Moreover, some indicators of the unspecific enteritis were highlighted. The second part of the project was focused on the evaluation of occurrence and, whenever possible, of prevalence of food-borne pathogens in birds reared using different technologies as well as at the slaughterhouse level in different EU countries. Moreover, the effects of different feed alternatives on the reduction of the occurrence/prevalence of enteric pathogens were assessed.

Selected strains collected in the broiler flocks tested were typed and the overall results were included in a database. The third part of the work dealt with the evaluation of molecular methods to monitor the changes in poultry gut microflora. Finally, socio-economical aspects regarding poultry productions in European countries and recommendations were discussed.

The managerial models have been identified and examined with respect to the issues caused by the European Union (EU) ban of AGPs. The analytical perspective adopted has emphasised the costs of the achievement of a new technological base, provided the importance of the AGPs within the normal design configuration of the poultry sector.

To the purpose of the research, the managerial models are thought of as emerging from two pillars: the relationships between the food safety and the search for competitive advantage and the possibility of promoting technological change through the production contract. The evidences collected showed that food safety act as antecedents of the differentiating strategies elaborated and implemented by the companies within complex chains relationships. Tight coordination nexus exists between the companies and the large retailers, which affect the strategic role of food safety.

Regarding the possibility of promoting technological change through the production contract, the evidences suggests that there are some opportunities to meet the request of technological change caused by the EU ban. Actually the contract, as usual tool of innovation, allows the companies to rely on collaborative approach of the growers who, in turns, appear able to assess the efficiency of specific innovation possibilities, provided that they are framed within the standard contractual approach to technology implementation. The research activities have also allowed to elaborate on some analytical elements. The technological issues addressed have been conceptualised in terms of normal design configuration and a contribution to the analytical framework of the adaptation costs in the context of hybrid governance structures has been proposed.

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