Suppressing the growth of Campylobacter in chickens

Wednesday, 08 February, 2017

Campylobacter contaminated raw chicken meat is responsible for more than a million cases of food poisoning in Australia each year. A major source of this poisoning is poor food handling in domestic and commercial kitchens.

Computer modelling has shown that if the bacterial load of Campylobacter on the raw chicken is reduced a hundredfold, the incidence of food poisoning resulting from the Campylobacter is reduced thirtyfold.

By finding ways of suppressing the growth of Campylobacter in chickens before they are processed it is hoped that the foodborne disease load can be reduced. The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation awarded a $1 million grant to Dr Tamsyn Crowley and Dr Sarah Shigdar from the Deakin University School of Medicine to work on a project late last year.

“Our research will focus on using nanotechnology to kill Campylobacter before it can cause problems in humans,” Dr Crowley said.

“We will be looking at very small molecules that can be used to bind substances to specifically target bacterial growth. It doesn’t matter exactly how the growth is suppressed — whether we paralyse the bacteria or prevent them from absorbing nutrients, or through some other means. This leaves us many possibilities to achieve our goal.”

Dr Crowley said once the most suitable molecule has been identified, researchers could focus on devising the best way to deliver these into the poultry, either through water or food, which will take place in the few days before the chickens are processed.

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