A team of researchers in the newly-formed Department of Population Health at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine has launched a study to determine how to eliminate salmonella bacteria from the poultry production process.

"What we’re trying to do is trace salmonella through the food chain, so we can identify at what point in the poultry industry we can introduce intervention measures most effectively," said John Maurer, associate professor of population health and head of the research team. "Knowing where the salmonella comes from is important so that we can reduce its transmission to the final product that the consumer eats."

The problem is that in chickens and many other animals salmonella rarely causes illness. Adult chickens can be carriers of the bacteria and yet appear perfectly healthy.

Funded by an $890,000, three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the research team, in addition to Maurer, includes Charles Hofacre, professor, population health, UGA College of Veterinary Medicine; Michael P. Doyle, director, Center for Food Safety; Dana Cole, medical epidemiologist, Georgia Division of Public Health. The grant also will fund positions for several graduate students at the veterinary college who will handle the data analysis.