Oil and water may not mix, but a University of Georgia study has found feeding chickens a blend of plant-based oils in their drinking water can help prevent salmonella contamination before the meat reaches the dinner table, or even the grocery store.
Salmonella is a bacterium that causes 1 million cases of foodborne illness in the United States each year, said Walid Alali, a food safety scientist with the UGA Center for Food Safety in Griffin, Ga.
"Each year some 20,000 people will go to the hospital and close to 400 will die due to salmonellosis," Alali said.
Linked to poultry, peanut butter and produce
Poultry is a common source of salmonellosis, as are eggs, raw sprouts and unpasteurized juices, but proper cooking and pasteurization kill salmonella. A major outbreak in 2011 was linked to ground turkey that infected close to 136 people in 34 states. In 2009 almost 400 people in 42 states were sickened after eating contaminated peanut butter.
In this study, published in the October issue of Food Control, Alali tested the effectiveness of adding a blend of oils to poultry drinking water. The product, Mix-Oil, is a highly concentrated blend of essential oils from thyme, eucalyptol and oregano developed by the Italian company Animal Wellness Products. Mix-Oil has been on the market since 2004 and is used for all animal species, including commercially raised fish.
Higher chicken profit
"Our field results show that Mix-Oil helps get better performance and better meat quality and always gives profitability," said AWP President Paolo Cristofori.