Some commercial poultry processors have started using a bacterial culture developed at the University of Arkansas that can sharply reduce the levels of pathogenic Salmonella and Campylobacter in live poultry, according to a report in the most recent Food Safety Consortium Newsletter.

Although this probiotic holds potential economic benefits for the industry, it’s still not enough for Billy Hargis, poultry science researcher, the report further relays. "We have not bothered to patent this specific culture because we don’t think this is the best we can do," said Hargis, who is working on the FSC project in the UA Division of Agriculture. "We think we can find better cultures. This is just the best we have found so far. We think we can make it more effective."

Unlike previous cultures that have been tested, this culture is reportedly unique because it is a "defined culture”, entirely derived from a single defined group of bacteria.

At the poultry production farm level, the probiotic culture has been administered to chicks through their drinking water and by spray application. In addition to cutting down on pathogens in the live poultry, the culture has also been found in experiments to be effective in increasing the birds’ weight, lowering production costs, and reducing environmental contamination in poultry houses, the report states.

In addition to seeking ways to perfect the probiotic culture, Hargis also wants to pursue more study of its ability to reduce carcass contamination. Some experiments have shown such reductions, but more data are needed.

"Salmonella does not occur by spontaneous generation in a processing plant. It comes in with the live animals. I think it’s a pretty good bet that reducing Salmonella in live animals will end up reducing Salmonella in food because that’s where it comes from," Hargis said. "Our focus now is to make the culture better and find other isolates that are more effective."