U.S – A recent study highlights the potential of a bacteriophage cocktail as an effective tool for controlling nontyphoidal Salmonella enterica on chicken, a source of foodborne illnesses globally. 

Nontyphoidal Salmonella is responsible for millions of cases of foodborne illnesses each year, with poultry products being a key contributor to these infections. 

The study emphasizes the urgency of finding effective control measures, given the public health burden associated with salmonellosis from poultry.

Bacteriophages are natural viral predators of bacteria, offering a promising and food-safe alternative to current antimicrobial practices. 

These organic entities are cost-effective and exhibit high target specificity. Despite their potential, widespread adoption has been hindered by challenges such as host range limitations, bactericidal effectiveness in practical settings, and the risk of host resistance.

The study evaluated a three-phage cocktail with broad-spectrum activity against three relevant Salmonella enterica subtypes—S. Enteritidis, S. Typhimurium, and S. Kentucky. These strains are particularly significant in terms of food safety and public health. 

The impact of the phage cocktail on Salmonella presence was assessed on raw chicken breast samples stored at different temperatures and durations.

Results indicated a reduction in Salmonella counts after treatment with the phage cocktail, both at 10 °C and 22 °C. 

Notably, the treatment reduced Salmonella counts by more than 3.2 log after five days of storage at 10 °C and by more than 1.7 log after 16 hours of storage at 22 °C compared to the control.

Considerations for effective phage application

While acknowledging the potential of phages in enhancing food safety, the study underscores that phages cannot replace existing hygienic practices. 

Due to their host specificity, phages should be considered as complementary tools rather than broad-spectrum chemicals or antibiotics. 

The research also highlights the importance of considering factors such as food type, temperature, and contamination level, as these variables significantly influence phage efficacy. 

The study emphasizes the need for thorough validation of phage treatments under relevant application conditions to ensure their effectiveness in real-world scenarios.

This research contributes to the ongoing efforts to explore innovative and sustainable solutions for enhancing food safety in the poultry industry.

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