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Front Microbiol. 2014 Jun 17;5:282. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2014.00282. eCollection 2014.

Antibiotics in Canadian poultry productions and anticipated alternatives.

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Pacific Agri-Food Research Center, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Agassiz, BC, Canada.
Département de Biologie, Faculté des Sciences, Centre d'Étude et de Valorisation de la Diversité Microbienne, Université de Sherbrooke Sherbrooke, QC, Canada.


The use of antibiotics in food-producing animals has significantly increased animal health by lowering mortality and the incidence of diseases. Antibiotics also have largely contributed to increase productivity of farms. However, antibiotic usage in general and relevance of non-therapeutic antibiotics (growth promoters) in feed need to be reevaluated especially because bacterial pathogens of humans and animals have developed and shared a variety of antibiotic resistance mechanisms that can easily be spread within microbial communities. In Canada, poultry production involves more than 2600 regulated chicken producers who have access to several antibiotics approved as feed additives for poultry. Feed recipes and mixtures vary greatly geographically and from one farm to another, making links between use of a specific antibiotic feed additive and production yields or selection of specific antibiotic-resistant bacteria difficult to establish. Many on-farm studies have revealed the widespread presence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria in broiler chickens. While some reports linked the presence of antibiotic-resistant organisms to the use of feed supplemented with antibiotics, no recent studies could clearly demonstrate the benefit of antimicrobial growth promoters on performance and production yields. With modern biosecurity and hygienic practices, there is a genuine concern that intensive utilization of antibiotics or use of antimicrobial growth promoters in feed might no longer be useful. Public pressure and concerns about food and environmental safety (antibiotic residues, antibiotic-resistant pathogens) have driven researchers to actively look for alternatives to antibiotics. Some of the alternatives include pre- and probiotics, organic acids and essential oils. We will describe here the properties of some bioactive molecules, like those found in cranberry, which have shown interesting polyvalent antibacterial and immuno-stimulatory activities.


alternatives to antibiotics; broilers; c-di-GMP; cranberry; growth promoters; non-therapeutic antibiotics; poultry production

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