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Hot Pepper Oil May Prevent Salmonella In Poultry

Date:
August 20, 2001
Source:
Virginia Tech
Summary:
Adding capsaicin, the spicy component of peppers, to the diet of neonatal broiler chicks appears to increase their resistance to Salmonella, according to Audrey McElroy, assistant professor of poultry science at Virginia Tech.
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BLACKSBURG, Va., Aug. 17, 2001 -- Adding capsaicin, the spicy component of peppers, to the diet of neonatal broiler chicks appears to increase their resistance to Salmonella, according to Audrey McElroy, assistant professor of poultry science at Virginia Tech.

As an undergraduate student, McElroy and her graduate advisor got the idea of feeding hot pepper oil to chickens while they and a graduate student from Mexico were eating hamburgers filled with hot sauce and covered with layers of jalapeno peppers. When they wondered aloud why people like spicy foods even though they often cause a runny nose, watery eyes, and other ill effects, the Mexican student said that people in his country believe that hot foods and spices provide protection from disease.

Their laboratory quickly made the jump from humans to poultry, and hypothesized that a diet that included some form of hot peppers might protect broilers and other commercial poultry from intestinal disease.

The research began with purchasing 1,530 commercial meat chicks, dividing them into three groups, and feeding each group a standard corn and soybean meal-based diet for 42 days. McElroy fed the plain feed to the first group, but added five parts per million of pure capsaicin to the feed of the second group, and 20 parts per million to the third group’s feed.

She then administered Salmonella enteritidis to the chicks at 21, 28, and 42 days of age. She found that both the low and the high level of capsaicin increased resistance to the Salmonella without adversely affecting feed consumption, weight gain, or the taste of the chicken when cooked.

"What we saw from our initial microscopic evaluation is that the capsaicin appears to cause a very mild inflammation in the intestines," McElroy says.

One theory she’s investigating is the possibility that the presence of the capsaicin-induced inflammation might make it more difficult for the Salmonella to bind to the intestinal cells and, from there, to branch out to invade the blood, liver, and spleen.

"Or," she says, "it may be that the capsaicin acts on the intestine to recruit immune cells, which then fight off the Salmonella."

Her current research is designed to evaluate any observable effects of capsaicin directly on Salmonella in laboratory conditions, the effects of capsaicin on the intestinal environment, and the most economical scheme of feeding capsaicin to commercial poultry.

McElroy says that Salmonella typically results in little to no observable illness in chickens, but it is a disease of concern to the industry due to its ability to cause human


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Materials provided by Virginia Tech. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Cite This Page:

Virginia Tech. "Hot Pepper Oil May Prevent Salmonella In Poultry." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 August 2001. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010820071840.htm>.
Virginia Tech. (2001, August 20). Hot Pepper Oil May Prevent Salmonella In Poultry. ScienceDaily. Retrieved June 14, 2024 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010820071840.htm
Virginia Tech. "Hot Pepper Oil May Prevent Salmonella In Poultry." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2001/08/010820071840.htm (accessed June 14, 2024).

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