Poultry production has frequently been used as the source of protein, as a result of has undergone considerable improvement in their food conversion rate, mainly because of the presence of genetically superior breeds (Burton, 2016). There have been huge food-safety concerns leading to health issues and thus threatening both production and consumption. Food safety in poultry production entails production systems involved in keeping poultry food products free from hazardous substances that may threaten human health (Motarjemi & Lelieveld, 2014). Problems associated with poultry production have been focused and regularly reviewed to establish the solution to health concerns related to poultry production.
Various regulations and legislation have been developed mostly in developed countries both in private and public sectors. In countries where legislation has not been completed and fully implemented, food-borne illnesses and other health hazards are still significant challenges (Mead, 2015). Moreover, such inadequacies have resulted in international trade deficits due to various restrictions to such countries in the wake of the foreseen safety concerns. Poultry provides most viable and affordable proteins to humans and hence increase in production is valuable so as to provide such protein that is in high demand (Burton, 2016). Decline in food safety standards and occurrence in food-borne diseases can be attributed to sanitation, hygiene and housing conditions
There are many microbiological risks including viruses, bacteria, protozoa, prions, helminths and mycotoxins (Motarjemi & Lelieveld, 2014). Bacteria of the genus Campylobacter and Salmonella cause the greatest safety challenge to poultry production. They are also referred to as resident microflora because they are found in many poultry species such as duck, turkeys, and chicken. Although these organisms are the main microorganisms that contribute foodborne hazards of concern to members of the public, they do not present clinical symptoms signalling presence of any disease in these birds. As such, controlling their spread becomes a challenging phenomenon that is still under review (Mead, 2015). The prevalence of Campylobacter has been found to be accelerated by the presence of stressful conditions in poultry. The presence of the birds in the subsequent sheds also accelerates the spread of both Campylobacter and Salmonella.
Vaccines against microorganisms such as Salmonella have been in use for some time to control the prevalence of such organisms. Spread of both Campylobacter and Salmonella has the detrimental effect on the birds and human beings (Mead, 2015). Such drugs are likely to remain in the organism as residues and thus entering the food chain. When animals are infected, humans may be infected because the pathogens could reach humans while they are still in the shed or during the process of preparing them for sale. Campylobacter and Salmonella may also be acquired during transport and processing stages that occur later in the food chain (Motarjemi & Lelieveld, 2014). Salmonella may be vertically transmittable in some of the human infections found in eggs. Although most of the infection with Salmonella may occur before eggs are laid, some of the infection could occur on the surface of the eggs and thus quick contamination if there are infections within the environment (Burton, 2016). Some of the chicks may be infected with Salmonella before hatching thus are readily colonised by the condition.
The other category involves chemicals from food poisoning, residues from pesticide, the natural toxin, residues from antibiotics and veterinary medication among other chemicals (Burton, 2016). Pesticides, antibiotics and other veterinary medication are used to promote poultry health. Poultry sheds that have been constructed next to suburbs or settlements are likely to use more antibiotics and pesticides. These situations are mostly experienced when the poultry management is inexperienced or when there is no adequate space for rare poultry. Excessive consumption of antibiotics is harmful and may lead to health hazards due to residue effects (Motarjemi & Lelieveld, 2014). However, farmers involved in the large scale production are in most cases careful while managing antibiotics, pesticides, and veterinary medication because single failure could lead to the production of commercially unsafe poultry products that may result in substantial losses.
The risk associated with contaminants must be minimised before reaching poultry flocks to diminish the possibility of contamination and adulteration of poultry meat and eggs for food (Motarjemi & Lelieveld, 2014). Active farm management practices, including effective biosecurity procedures and hygienic practices, optimise birds’ health and minimises the probability of poultry contamination. The greatest challenge surrounding poultry safety issues during production is the fact that the primary drive for safety concerns are meant to safeguard the welfare, health and economic performance of the poultry other than controlling pathogens that are harmful to humans (Mead, 2015). Little concern also goes to development of superior breeding that could be immune competence, disease resistance and stress resistance which would lead to resistance to diseases and safeguard the animal against contamination. There is also limited development and use of scientifically formulated feeds which could maintain and promote the animals’ immune system and health in the farm (Burton, 2016). Inattention to details while implementing these best management practices may increase human pathogen loads in and on live birds
Various strategies should be employed by farmers to minimise the risks of infection. Heat treated to control any infection that may result from feeds is suitable for controlling Salmonella infection (Burton, 2016). Although antibiotics are useful for poultry health, some of the antibiotics are harmful to humans, and thus they have been banned because they have huge residue effects. Farmers should avoid using them to promote food safety and thus safeguard consumers from food poisoning. Such antibiotics include tylosin, bacitracin virginiamycin and spiramycin (Motarjemi & Lelieveld, 2014). Pesticides are significant for eliminating vectors and disease. However, they are known to have a high residue effect and thus may cause foodborne hazards. Fundamentally, poultry farms should use versatile pesticides.
Versatile pesticides have no effects on the environment, public health and the entire process of animals’ health (Mead, 2015). Efficient risk analysis procedures are useful in the identification of the hazard before food substances could be consumed. Effective risk analysis involves timely communication of informed findings after risk assessment. Farmers ought to be alert on new communication so that they can take effective measures during further production (Burton, 2016). Assessment utilises various accurate strategies such as evidence from the environment, microbiology, and epidemiology from well-traced investigations.
Although concerns about the superiority of breed that would be immune competence, disease resistance, and stress are suitable for economic superiority, farmers should also consider placing enough measures to prevent poultry contamination (Motarjemi & Lelieveld, 2014). Besides, farmers ought to maintain high standards of sanitation, hygiene, and housing conditions to prevent a decline in food safety standards and occurrence of food-borne diseases attributed to sanitation, hygiene, and housing conditions. Farmers ought to put more effort in the development of superior breeding that could be immune competence, disease resistance and stress resistance (Burton, 2016). Similarly, farmers should spearhead a campaign for development of scientifically formulated feeds which could maintain and promote the animals’ immune system and health.
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- Burton, E. (2016). Sustainable poultry production in Europe. Boston, MA: CABI
- Mead, G. C. (2015). Food safety control in the poultry industry. Boca Raton, FL, CRC Press.
- Motarjemi, Y., & Lelieveld, H. (2014). Food safety management: a practical guide for the food industry. Amsterdam: Academic Press.