Aug 20, 2001
VOL. I
NUMBER 6300-08

Peppers reduce salmonella in chickens
Red hot peppers could provide the means of combating salmonella in chickens, believe US scientists, who say that feeding chicks capsaicin from the peppers' oil would reduce the amount of antibiotics the birds needed to be fed.
By Tim Radford Science editor of
Guardian Newspapers Limited
August 20, 2001, Thursday


Red hot peppers could provide the means of combating salmonella in chickens, believe US scientists, who say that feeding chicks capsaicin from the peppers' oil would reduce the amount of antibiotics the birds needed to be fed.

Various societies worldwide believe spices protect against disease, an idea taken up years ago by Cornell researchers who reported that garlic, ginger, chilli and other spices had antibacterial properties.

Audrey McElroy, an assistant professor at Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, and her colleagues have gone further, buying 1,530 broiler chicks to test a theory that use of the peppers could assist poultry farmers.

The birds were split into three groups and fed a standard soy and cornmeal diet for 42 days. The first lot ate the plain meal, the second had five parts per million of pure capsaicin added to their diet, and the third were given 20 parts per million.

The team dosed the chicks with salmonella enteritidis, and confirmed their hunch: the birds fed the peppery prophylactic had increased resis tance to the infection. They kept their appetites and put on weight.

The capsaicin did seem to cause a mild intestinal inflammation, however, so Dr McElroy is trying to work out whether that inflammation makes it difficult for the salmonella to get a hold in the intestine and spread to the blood, or whether the pepper attack primes the immune system.

Salmonella contamination is a problem in all large poultry houses. Antibiotics are a safeguard, but they often compound the problem by encouraging the spread of antibiotic resistant microbes.