Arm & Hammer Animal and Food Production
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WEBINAR: Take a systems approach to combat Campylobacter.

Posted December 10, 2020 by Dr. Christine Alvarado, Food Safety Technical Services Manager and Dr. Theresia Lavergne, Poultry Technical Services Manager

Producing safe food is a priority for those at all stages of integrated poultry operations. From poultry house to processing, a systems approach can help prevent risk of pathogen contamination. A complete intervention program begins prior to hatch and ends with proper product handling and cooking by the consumer.

In the United States alone, there are 1.5 million cases of Campylobacter illness diagnosed each year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While the industry is diligent in mitigating the risk of Campylobacter contamination, live operations and processors can take additional steps at all stages of the integrated poultry system to reduce pathogen load and prevalence.

Four best practices for food safety.

  • It starts at the live operation. Lower bacteria prevalence on incoming birds means antimicrobials in the plant can more effectively do their jobs. Intervention strategies at the poultry house include best management practices and feed additives to help reduce bacterial load upon arrival. Developing close working relationships with live operations sets the processing cycle up for the best possible outcome.
  • Develop a biomapping program. Microbial testing and data analysis can help processors understand pathogen movement throughout the production continuum and determine where food safety hazards are introduced. This ultimately tells the story of food safety in a facility and provides opportunities to strategically place interventions in areas of high risk for pathogen introduction.
  • Identify food safety critical control points. While using the same technology throughout processing can provide efficacious results, a multi-hurdle, multi-technology approach allows processors to improve efficacy and hit problematic target areas to heighten food safety.
  • Elevate data analytics. Processors should work with a team of statisticians or data analytic experts to determine pathogen load and prevalence using collected data. The data builds a history and shows food safety trends, telling the story of how processing is affecting food safety while also bringing understanding to current trends using predictive modeling.

When evaluating food safety practices in processing, it’s important to identify the top three points that have the greatest influence on pathogen reduction.  By focusing on three key areas consistently, processors have an opportunity to make a larger impact on pathogen risk levels. It’s important to focus not on managing the average pathogen load and prevalence across the industry, but on managing the variation within each processing plant. Tailor and target solutions to meet the unique needs of each facility.

Reducing pathogen prevalence isn’t solely a processor’s job to manage, though. When healthier animals are sent from the farm to processing, it reduces risk of pathogen contamination and movement—a win for producers, processors and consumers.

Feed additives.

Utilizing feed additives at the poultry house aids in the reduction of Campylobacter colonization in poultry. Refined Functional Carbohydrates (RFCs) help poultry cope with health and environmental challenges, building resilient immune systems prepared to respond quickly when faced with challenges like Campylobacter.

These highly bioavailable RFCs:

  • Support growth of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium
  • Bind to pathogenic bacteria like Campylobacter, E. coli and Salmonella
  • Support the immune system and bind mycotoxins

Meanwhile, RFCs also help prevent certain protozoa like Eimeria and Cryptosporidium from attaching to the intestinal wall and causing disease. Ultimately, introducing RFCs preharvest can support reduction in postharvest pathogen load by keeping birds healthy.

RFCs are proven to reduce adhesion of Campylobacter to poultry epithelial cells in vitro. In one study1, RFCs and other prebiotics reduced adhesion of Campylobacter to chicken LMH epithelial cell lines, providing a potential mechanism for reducing Campylobacter colonization in RFC supplemented poultry.

In another study, RFCs reduced Campylobacter jejuni load and prevalence in poultry. In separate trials, turkey poults2 and broilers3, 4 were supplemented with CELMANAX, a feed additive that consists of RFCs. Results showed RFC supplementation in poultry diets may aid in reduction of load and prevalence of Campylobacter jejuni in the ceca of boilers and turkeys.

A systems approach.

It takes the entire production and processing system to mitigate the colonization and spread of disease-causing pathogens like Campylobacter. No single intervention or tool is the solution. Rather, consider a multi-hurdle, multi-technology approach to establish programs to effectively combat Campylobacter throughout the integrated system.


Contact ARM & HAMMER to discuss implementing pre- or postharvest Campylobacter reduction strategies in your facility.



1 Froebel LK, et al. 2020 IPSF meeting, abstract P216
2 Huff GR, et al. Poultry Science 2013;92(3):655-662.
3 Froebel LK, et al. Poultry Science 2019;98(12):6668-6676.
4 Froebel, et al. 2019 Poultry Science Association meeting, abstract 656P

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