17 Nov 2020

Farm-exclusive protocols can contribute to healthier poultry products.

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Chicken is the most consumed type of meat in the United States and is responsible for roughly 1 million yearly cases of Salmonella illnesses, according to federal estimates based on foodborne outbreak data. However, different strategies may prove to be at the forefront of preventing any future infections by this bacterium.

Reducing Salmonella in poultry requires a combination of interventions al throughout the production supply chain, including on farms, where birds are most prone to getting infected.

One such approach is being applied by Wayne Farms, one of the United State’s largest chicken producers with operations in five states. They have adopted several evidence-based practices to control Salmonella before chickens are sent to their own processing plants.

In an interview with Bryan Miller, vice president for quality assurance and food safety, he discusses about the Georgia-based company’s on-farm strategies and the benefits they have generated.

Miller has a PHD in poultry science from the University of Georgia with three decades of experience in the industry under his belt.

How is Wayne Farms controlling Salmonella in their Chicken flocks?

Wayne Farms has a multifaceted approach when it comes to reducing food pathogens. First step starts with their breeder flocks. It’s essential that when purchasing the male and female breeder chicks, we are guaranteeing that they are free of the most prevalent Salmonella serotypes that are associated with human illness like: Enteritidis, Typhimurium, and Heidelberg. Additionally, the female chickens receive vaccination against Salmonella using an autogenous vaccine developed from bacterial serotypes isolated from Wayne Farms operations.

Meticulous biosecurity programs implemented in all our facilities; i.e: hatcheries, breeder, and broiler farms, not only provides protection for our birds from avian diseases, but also reduces exposure to food pathogens. Other methods include pest control, litter management, and water acidification, that play important roles in reducing both the exposure to food pathogens and the bacterial load that is introduced into the processing facilities.

Salmonella tends to emerge and recede so what do you depend on to detect and address potential risks?

The entire poultry industry; including Wayne Farms, depends on company-designed monitoring protocols established for Salmonella detection in hatcheries, breeder flocks, and at other areas of interest throughout the production supply chain. We also resort to government agencies such as the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) to inform us of emerging serotypes that are associated with human illness outbreaks.

How do your on-farm practices contribute towards food safety?

The pre-harvest interventions implemented at Wayne Farms have shown to reduce the general load of food pathogens potentially introduced by the live chickens into the processing facility. These practices are proven methods to reduce the Salmonella load both in the flocks and their houses. It was critical to establish a hostile environment for the growth of Salmonella in the houses and in the gastrointestinal tracts of our birds. The combination of such farm practices and the vaccination program, a significant reduction of bacterial load has been established in our end products, including the successfully targeting of Salmonella serotypes that are associated with human illnesses.

Have these food safety investments proven to be cost-effective?

It goes without saying that the onus is on us to provide our customers safe, quality, wholesome chicken product that meet their needs. Their trust in our methods is the driving force to continuously improve in this and other areas of our business.

The multifaceted approach employed on our farms has effectively reduced foodborne pathogens and this phenomenon is back by scientific studies and other validations.

The responsibility for food safety is borne by everyone who is involved within the supply chain, and we understand our responsibility in reducing  public health concerns involving foodborne illnesses. Wayne Farms remains committed to producing safe poultry products, and any investment, capital and efforts to further that commitment is well worth it.

Source: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/11/10/farm-focused-strategy-to-fight-salmonella-leads-to-safer-poultry-products



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