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article imageMaking a probiotic chicken to beat food poisoning

By Tim Sandle     Dec 4, 2013 in Science
A probiotic chicken could be reared, with friendly bacteria added to the coat of the chicken, as a way of warding of food poisoning bacteria.
A research team have characterized the coat of a potential poultry probiotic, giving the first clues of how it may be used to exclude pathogenic bacteria from chickens. The idea is that if the bacterium Lactobacillus johnsonii is coated onto the coat and feathers of the chicken this will help to combat any food positioning bacteria that the chicken picks up.
The Lactobacillus has previously been shown to exclude Clostridium perfringens from the guts of poultry, opening the door to it being developed as a way of reducing necrotic enteritis in poultry and food poisoning in humans. L. johnsonii is not known to be pathogenic to humans. On the contrary, it is shown to be a beneficial microorganism which resides in the human intestine and is characterized by various probiotic properties.
In U.S. and the U.K., C. perfringens bacteria are the third most common cause of foodborne illness, with poorly prepared meat and poultry, or food properly prepared but left to stand too long. Symptoms typically include abdominal cramping, diarrhea; vomiting and fever are usual. The whole course usually resolves within 24 hours. Very rare, fatal cases of clostridial necrotizing enteritis (also known as pigbel) have been known to involve Type C strains of the organism.
This strain of Lactobacillus johnsonii is now being taken through farm-scale trials to assess its potential use to combat pathogenic infections of poultry by bacteria.
The research has been published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, in a paper titled “Structure and Biosynthesis of Two Exopolysaccharides Produced by Lactobacillus johnsonii FI9785.”
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