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Salmonella in Poultry: Mitigation Requires a Comprehensive Approach

Every year in the U.S., Salmonella sickens 1.35 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.1 With 23% of those infections attributable to poultry consumption, this comes at a great economic cost to poultry producers. They’re faced with the costs of recalls, culling, and reduced sales over an extended period of time.

With the significant risk of Salmonella to public health and poultry producers’ economic viability, a holistic approach to Salmonella control that includes biosecurity measures is critical for poultry operations. The proposed new regulations for reducing Salmonella illnesses from the Food Safety and Inspection Services (FSIS) are calling even more attention to the topic.

5 Reasons You Need a 360º Approach to Salmonella Management

  1. Prevents foodborne illness.
  2. Protects your birds.
  3. Helps meet regulatory requirements.
  4. Protects your reputation.
  5. Helps you maintain your economic viability. 

The proposed FSIS framework includes three components:2

  • Component 1: Requiring Salmonella testing before incoming flocks enter a processing facility.
  • Component 2: Enhanced monitoring of establishment process control and FSIS verification.
  • Component 3: Implementing an enforceable final product standard.

Control of Salmonella in poultry belongs in every phase of the production cycle

Truly managing Salmonella in poultry will take more than new regulations. Producers must follow a 360º approach to prevent and control pathogen spread at the beginning — and throughout every phase — of the production cycle. This approach should not only work to stop Salmonella and other pathogens from entering a facility and spreading through a flock, but also have a focus on keeping birds healthy so they can fight pathogens and remain productive. Having Salmonella-reduction measures in place also helps reduce the risk of contamination at processing.

Poultry operations may harbor many sources of infection. While Salmonella can be spread through a variety of sources — including rodents, insects, wildlife, farm equipment, farm pets, and even by the people who handle poultry — we’ll take a closer look at three often-overlooked sources of infection: litter, water, and feed. Let’s explore how to help prevent contamination and manage it when it does occur.

Salmonella in poultry litter

  • The challenge: Poultry litter harbors many microbial organisms, including Salmonella. Birds can consume contaminated litter and feces during the pre-harvest feed-withdrawal period. This can lead to Salmonella infection of the upper gastrointestinal tract and cause considerable problems at processing.
  • Best practices for mitigation: Maintaining gut health and preventing leaky gut syndrome can help keep birds at optimal health and performance, and keep litter cleaner. You can impact gut health through providing proper nutrition, considering the use of additives – such as probiotics and phytogenics -- and providing clean, quality feed and water, among other management practices.

Salmonella in poultry water

  • The challenge: Birds may become infected with Salmonella when they drink contaminated water. Salmonella can survive in water for a long time and may be present in the bird’s water source, or it may be spread if contaminated equipment is used to deliver the water.
  • Best practices for mitigation: It’s important to keep water sources clean and free from contamination, and to regularly clean and disinfect all equipment and water lines used in the poultry house. Routine water testing is a great way for operations to ensure their water is free of pathogens. Producers and on-farm managers should consider a disinfectant that helps eliminate pathogens, including Salmonella, that do get in the water line. 

Salmonella in poultry feed

  • The challenge: Through many studies — looking at a variety of livestock and poultry species — it has been proven that pathogens, including Salmonella, can be transmitted through feed. Feed can become contaminated in many ways:
    • During manufacturing in a facility that doesn’t implement Salmonella-control measures.
    • During transportation and storage if it comes into contact with improperly sanitized surfaces, equipment, etc.
    • Due to the use of feed ingredients such as meat or bone meal that are higher risk for Salmonella contamination.
  • Best practices for mitigation: It's important for both feed manufacturers and poultry producers to take measures to prevent Salmonella contamination of feed and to ensure that good hygiene and biosecurity practices are followed to minimize Salmonella risk. 


Additionally, poultry operations should be continuously testing their feed to uncover hidden pathogens, having conversations with their feed mill about the measures they are taking to prevent pathogens in the feed, and sanitizing all surfaces and equipment that the feed touches. Applying a high-efficacy antimicrobial solution to complete feed and feed ingredients can help producers maintain a Salmonella-negative status.

Read more: Dive deeper into the challenges of controlling Salmonella transmission.

Proper sanitation practices and biosecurity measures are crucial in preventing the spread of Salmonella in poultry flocks. The importance of flock gut health can’t be understated. Birds that are well fed and well hydrated are less likely to become sick and are better able to resist Salmonella infection.

Raising resilient birds helps combat Salmonella

Even with the most robust prevention measures in place, some pathogens may still spread. That’s why it’s so important to take proactive measures to keep birds healthy and keep their systems primed to combat Salmonella and other pathogens. A healthy flock will have a higher ability to fight infections and that leads to a safer food supply and healthier profits for producers.

Supplementing birds with a gut acidifier can inhibit the growth of pathogenic microbes and enhance protein digestion, which helps improve overall gut health. Probiotics can help maintain a healthy microbiome that drives intestinal resilience, which in turn helps birds fend off harmful pathogens and overcome health challenges.

The Kemin Poultry Triple Check program

The Kemin Poultry Triple Check program is a holistic approach to bird health that includes pathogen mitigation, including for Salmonella. The Kemin platform can help with products designed:

  • To clean up contaminants in the environment, feed, and water before birds are exposed.
  • To build up intestinal strength and immunity to reduce leaky gut.
  • To knock out or eliminate harmful pathogens from infiltrating the body. 

Learn more about how Kemin can help

In addition to a robust poultry product portfolio, Kemin has a staff of poultry experts — from DVMs to nutritionists to technical services professionals — all ready to help you. Fill out our form to talk to a Kemin representative about Salmonella management tools for your operation.

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