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Int J Food Microbiol. 2012 Jul 2;157(2):156-61. doi: 10.1016/j.ijfoodmicro.2012.04.024. Epub 2012 May 3.

A Bifidobacterium-based synbiotic product to reduce the transmission of C. jejuni along the poultry food chain.

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Department of Agroenvironmental Sciences and Technologies, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy.


With the ban of dietary antimicrobial agents, the use of probiotics, prebiotics and synbiotics has attracted a great deal of attention in order to improve intestinal health and control food-borne pathogens, which is an important concern for the production of safe meat and meat products. Recently, Campylobacter jejuni has emerged as a leading bacterial cause of food-borne gastroenteritis in humans, and epidemiological evidences indicate poultry and poultry products as the main source of human infection. This work aimed at the development of a synbiotic mixture capable of modulating the gut microbiota of broiler chickens to obtain an increase of the beneficial bacteria (i.e. bifidobacteria, lactobacilli) and a competitive reduction of C. jejuni. The prebiotic compound used in the mixture was chosen after an in vivo trial: a fructooligosaccharide and a galactooligosaccharide were separately administered to broilers mixed with normal feed at a concentration of 0.5% and 3%, respectively. Quantitative PCR on DNA extracted from fecal samples revealed a significant (p<0.05) increase of Bifidobacterium spp. in broilers treated with the galactooligosaccharide, coupled to a decrease (p<0.05) of Campylobacter spp. The galactooligosaccharide was then combined with a probiotic Bifidobacterium strain (B. longum subsp. longum PCB133), possessing in vitro antimicrobial activity against C. jejuni. The strain was microencapsulated in a lipid matrix to ensure viability into the feed and resistance to stomach transit. Finally, the synbiotic mixture was administered to broiler chickens for 14 days mixed with normal feed in order to have an intake of 10(9)CFU of PCB133/day. Bifidobacterium spp., Lactobacillus spp., Campylobacter spp., B. longum subsp. longum and C. jejuni were quantified in fecal samples. PCB133 was recovered in feces of all animals. C. jejuni concentration in poultry feces was significantly (p<0.05) reduced in chickens administered with the synbiotic mixture. This study allowed to highlight the positive effect of the synbiotic approach for C. jejuni reduction in broiler chickens, which is of fundamental importance for the safety of poultry meat consumers.

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