Clean water means cleaner chicken

by 5m Editor
11 August 2005, at 12:00am

UK - According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Campylobacter is the single biggest cause of food-borne illness in the United Kingdom.

Clean water means cleaner chicken - UK - According to the Food Standards Agency (FSA), Campylobacter is the single biggest cause of food-borne illness in the United Kingdom.

But by not testing water for pathogens at the point of drinking, poultry producers are potentially missing major sources of infection, explains Nick Meakin of Forum Bioscience.

"When using drinkers, poultry unavoidably introduce microbes into the water system," says Mr Meakin. "Water which is clean at source or in the anteroom may have a very high microbial content by the time it's presented to the birds in the shed.

An innovative new water-treatment system is one possible solution to the problem. It produces potable and non-toxic water that exhibits incredible biocidal qualities - a fundamental development for on-farm hygiene and food safety.

Developed by Forum Bioscience for use in the poultry industry, the Aqualution system is a specialised electrolysis unit, producing activated water containing a very small amount of chlorine and high concentrations of dissolved oxygen. A small amount of the drinking water is treated (3-5%) and then returned to the water supply.

"When testing conventional water at the point of drinking, it can be contaminated with anything from 10,000 cfu/ml to 1,000,000 cfu/ml - the measure of the number of micro-organisms in the water.

"To put this in context, some vets become concerned with contamination levels at 200cfu/ml, although most suggest a maximum of 1000cfu/ml," Mr Meakin points out.

"What's more, conventional chemicals can't be used at sufficiently high concentrations to eliminate this problem without potentially causing harm to the birds."

Indeed, the FSA's Second Report on Campylobacter states that the addition of chlorine or ozone to poultry drinking water is likely to be beneficial in the control of the problem pathogen, but warns that caution should be exercised when using these chemicals, particularly ozone, as the compound can be toxic.

Independent testing has shown that Aqualution treated water satisfies the British Disinfectant Standard against a range of problem pathogens including Pseudomonas, E.coli, Salmonella and Campylobacter. It's also effective against many viruses including avian influenza, and is notified under the EU Biocidal Products Directive.

"Results from large-scale on-farm trials of the system show that microbial load can be completely removed from the entire drinking water system," reports Mr Meakin.

In addition to the welfare and food safety benefits, the system can also make a big difference to end-profits.

"Extensive trial results show that for meat production, a combination of reduced bird mortality, increased growth rates and better food conversion can be achieved. In layers and breeders there is also greater egg and chick yield."

ThePoultrySite News Desk - 11th August 2005

5m Editor