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PLoS One. 2017 Apr 18;12(4):e0175693. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0175693. eCollection 2017.

Lauric acid as feed additive - An approach to reducing Campylobacter spp. in broiler meat.

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Institute for Food Quality and Food Safety, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Bischofsholer Damm 15, Hannover, Germany.
Institute for Animal Nutrition, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, Foundation, Bischofsholer Damm 15, Hannover, Germany.
Institute of Agricultural and Nutritional Sciences, Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, Theodor-Lieser-Straße 11, Halle (Saale), Germany.


The increasing prevalence of Campylobacter spp. within broiler populations is a major problem for food safety and consumer protection worldwide. In vitro studies could already demonstrate that Campylobacter spp. are susceptible to lauric acid. The purpose of this study was to examine in vivo the influence of lauric acid as a feed additive on slaughter parameters, muscle fatty acid profile, meat quality traits and the reduction of Campylobacter coli in inoculated meat of Ross 308 (R308) and Hubbard JA 757 (HJA) broilers in three independent trials (n = 3). Although slaughter parameters did not show any significant differences, the fatty acid profile of both breeds revealed significantly higher lauric acid concentrations (P < 0.0001) in the Musculus pectoralis superficialis of treated broilers. Comparing both tested breeds, R308 test broilers had significantly higher lauric acid concentrations than HJA test broilers (P < 0.0001), indicating a higher conversion rate in those animals. The meat quality traits showed no differences in the R308 breed (P > 0.05), but HJA test broilers had higher values for drip loss, electrical conductivity, CIE color values L* and b*, and lower pH values. The inoculation trials of R308 showed that initial bacterial loads of 5.9 log10 cfu/g were reduced during six days of storage (4°C) to approximately 4.3 log10 cfu/g in the control groups compared to 3.5 log10 cfu/g in the treatment groups (P = 0.0295), which could be due to antimicrobial effects of lauric acid within the muscle. This study therefore suggests that lauric acid as a feed additive has the potential to improve food safety by reducing the numbers of Campylobacter coli in broiler meat. However, this effect seems to be dependent on the breed determining the feed intake capacity, the fat deposition and therefore the ability to incorporate lauric acid in the muscle.

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