Research: Salmonella Levels Lower on Organic than Conventional Poultry Farms in NC

Prevalence and Distribution of Salmonella in Organic and Conventional Broiler Poultry Farms

Walid Q. Alali, Siddhartha Thakur, Roy D. Berghaus, Michael P. Martin, Wondwossen A. Gebreyes. Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. November 2010, 7(11): 1363-1371. doi:10.1089/fpd.2010.0566.

Published in Volume: 7 Issue 11: November 2, 2010; Online Ahead of Print: July 9, 2010


The objective of this cross-sectional study was to compare the prevalence of Salmonella and antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella, as well as investigate the distribution of this pathogen in organic and conventional broiler poultry farms. Fecal (n = 420), feed (n = 140), and drinking water (n = 140) samples were collected from birds at 3 and 8 weeks of age for 2-flock cycles. One house was sampled per farm at three organic and four conventional broiler farms from the same company in North Carolina. All samples were analyzed for the presence of Salmonella using selective enrichment techniques. Further phenotypic (antimicrobial susceptibility) and genotypic (pulsed-field gel electrophoresis [PFGE]) testing were performed. Salmonella prevalences in fecal samples were 5.6% (10/180) and 38.8% (93/240) from organic and conventional farms, respectively. From feed, 5.0% (3/60) and 27.5% (22/80) of the samples were positive for Salmonella from organic and conventional farms, respectively. None of the water samples were positive for Salmonella. Seventy isolates were characterized by antimicrobial susceptibility and PFGE types. The two most common resistance phenotypes were single resistance to streptomycin (36.2% [25/58]: conventional; 25% [3/12] organic), and multidrug resistance to six antimicrobial agents: ampicillin-streptomycin-amoxicillin/clavulanic acid-cephalothin-ceftiofur-cefoxitin (AmStAxChCfFx; 39.7%: conventional only). Genotypic analysis using PFGE showed clonality among isolates within and between the two types of farms. The results of our study suggest that within this poultry company, the prevalence of fecal Salmonella was lower in certified-organic birds than in conventionally raised birds, and the prevalence of antimicrobial-resistant Salmonella was also higher in conventionally raised birds than in certified-organic birds.

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