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Towards safer poultry products

Studying poultry gut microflora would promote a better understanding of the interactions with potential pathogens and prevent enteric diseases. Implementation of this knowledge in rearing conditions is expected to improve the quality of meat products.
Towards safer poultry products
European consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about the safety and nutritional quality of their foods. They also want breeding practices that respect animal welfare and the environment. To this end, the industry has adapted poultry rearing and management practices to provide the market with good quality meat, free of human pathogens such as Salmonella and antibiotic residues.

However, these changes resulted in an increase of the prevalence of enteric diseases, affecting the colonisation of the animal intestinal tract by opportunistic bacteria. This leads to a deterioration of the hygienic quality of animal product meant for consumption.

So far, the lack of accurate methodology has hampered the characterisation of the ecology of poultry intestinal flora. With this in mind, the EU-funded ‘Control of the intestinal flora in poultry for ensuring the products safety for human consumers’ (Poultryflorgut) project wished to study the poultry intestinal flora and its interactions with food-borne pathogens. The main goal was to provide solutions for controlling intestinal flora and reducing food-borne pathogens.

Information on different kinds of digestive diseases as well as enteritis indicators were collected and included in a database for future reference. Project partners examined the effect of current poultry-rearing technologies on meat quality and slaughterhouse conditions in various countries. Animal feed alternatives were examined for their effect on occurrence/prevalence of enteric pathogens.

Poultryflorgut scientists emphasised that technological innovations could be implemented to promote safer poultry-rearing conditions and reduce the microbial risks associated with consumption of poultry products.

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